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Salton City is a community along the shores of the Salton Sea in Imperial County in the California Desert. Despite being developed as a planned resort town with infrastructure meant to support 40,000 residents, fewer than 1,000 people lived in the area as of the 2000 census, leading some to refer to it as a modern ghost town. After a long period of population decline, the population of Salton City, the population has increased in the 21st century because of improvements to nearby highways and because of the land is much cheaper than in the rest of California. It has about 4,800 residents as of 2017. The area remains a desolate place for visitors, however.


Salton City was established in 1958 by developers who planned a huge resort community on the shores of the Salton Sea. An extensive road, water, sewer and power grid capable of supporting 40,000 residents on 12,000 residential lots was established, but as the Salton Sea evaporated and became more polluted the expected residents never arrived, and today empty lots and abandoned roads litter the area. Visitors will find upscale houses mixed with abandoned buildings, a large marina that no longer has enough water to support boating, and an extensive road network that can sometimes wash away after storms.

Get in[edit]

Salton City is approximately 50 miles from the Imperial County seat of El Centro and 110 and 115 miles respectively from the coastal San Diego County cities of Oceanside and San Diego.

Get around[edit]







Most visitors will spend the night in nearby towns such as Indio, but houses can be rented through Airbnb.

  • 1 Ray and Carol's Motel, 1008 Ontario Ave, +1 760-394-0062, . This four-room motel is one of the few lodging options in the immediate area. It is located directly on the shore of the Salton Sea, and the owners provide personal attention for visitors. This boutique-style motel was remodeled in 2020.


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