California Travel Urbex

A Photo Journey of the Post-Apocalyptic Gems in SoCal

On February 2017, Mayra (my friend) and I went on an exciting adventure to the not-so-touristy side of California. We explored what I like to call post-apocalyptic gems located somewhere between LA and San Diego.

From its decrepit buildings to its foul-smelling beach, there is nothing more adventurous than visiting this post-apocalyptic wasteland right here in Southern California.

Here are the photo adventures from the sites I visited:

Salton Sea

In the ’50s and ’60s, Salton Sea was a booming tourist attraction. Marketed as a “miracle in the desert,” Salton Sea became a beach paradise especially for those heading to Palms Springs, attracting over half a million visitors annually.

Today, this beach is no longer a paradise as the once paradise beach now reeks with a pungent-smelling odor due to the increase in salinity and pollution from agricultural runoffs.

This is from the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

The views of Salton Sea

If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll notice what looks to be white pebbles or rocks scattered/piled across the sand. Turns out those are actually barnacles.

In this next photo, you can see dead fishes perfectly lined across the shore. It fascinates me to know that the only fish that survives in these waters is a tilapia. Who would’ve known?

Abandoned Buildings Near Salton Sea

Of course, Mayra and I had fun exploring the abandoned ruins near Salton Sea. We took photos of a couple places that just stood out.

Inside was a totally different experience. What used to be a normal business or home is now totally trashed and nearly falling apart.

Mayra and I found this abandoned structure that looks like a rocket. We’re not really sure what this used to be though.

Bombay Beach

Next, Mayra and I headed for a short stop at Bombay Beach.

Similar to Salton Sea, this beach used to be a major hotspot for celebrities. Now, this beach is just another abandoned wasteland.

Tires buried deep within the ground.

Slab City

After Bombay Beach, we headed to Slab City also known as “The Last Free Place in America.” As you drive along Slab City, you’ll see RVs and trailers camped on the side of the road.

Sadly, I didn’t have much time to explore this place, but next time, I’ll come back and visit again.

Salvation Mountain

And finally, we concluded our adventure with a trip to Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is Leonard Knight’s tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message, “GOD IS LOVE.”

He’s been painting and repainting his bright Biblical messages on Salvation Mountain since 1985. Sadly, he passed away on Feb. 2014.

Today, visitors can visit this brightly-colored mountain to find some hope (get it?) after seeing the depressing, yet abandoned ruins in SoCal.

You can even follow the yellow brick road to the top of Salvation Mountain.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Also, be sure to check out the caves next to the mountain. Once inside, you’ll not only find shelter from the desert sun, but also get a chance to look at all the quirky art that Leonard Knight created.

Something about this place gives it almost a whimsical vibe. Maybe it’s the vibrant colors of the surrounding walls. Or the colorful trees that looks to be an enchanted forest. Whatever it may be I’m glad that they kept this place alive for visitors to enjoy.

Well, thanks again for following along with my photo journey through the post-apocalyptic desert in SoCal. I hope this inspires you to find hidden gems not just in SoCal, but in your hometown as well.


Have you been to any of these sites? Which one are you most inspired to visit? Let me know by commenting down below. And if you have any hidden gems in your hometown, feel free to share them as well. 

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