Salton Sea Geothermal Mud Pots

Davis Schrimpf Road seep field CalipatriaIn Calipatria, Near the Salton Sea there is a heaving “Seep Field” of small volcanoes. This sparse southern California town is on the southern end of the Salton Sea, and just across the highway from Slab City. The access road we took (W Schrimpf Rd) was unpaved and rutted. From Highway 111, it’s only 3.5 miles to the junction of Wister & W Schrimpf Roads—where the field of Mud Pots is located. It’s accessible by car, and best by truck.

On a long weekend in February 2012, Lesha, Raffi & I went to explore and learn about the Salton Sea. We stopped in at the temporary (mobile homes turned museum) Salton Sea Historical Museum on our second day and made inquiries about area destinations. We were excited to learn about these active geothermal mud pots tucked on the other end of the sea. The following day, we picnicked at the old Salton Sea Marina and navigated our way down Highway 111.

It was a stormy February weekend, and this final day broke with heavy rain around the sea. We hoped for some clearing and in the afternoon the rain did yield, lending us beautiful skies, and heavy, soaked footing. We were expecting little ponds, and diorama sized volcanoes of bubbling sulfur. But, the bubbling formations were much more than we’d expected. They were impressive, some over six feet in height, and hulking. They were sturdy enough for climbing.

On this day, a family of five arrived after we’d exhausted our memory cards. This family had three, teenage boys who were allowed free-range to heap hot seep, and shovels of mud at one another. We watched as they sloughed, gouged, careened, and at times stomping in the tops of these natural formations. The father didn’t seem concerned. He said he was a geologist; that his family makes several trips to this site, and that the cone formations always regenerate. With all that said, the juvenile play looked like vandalism to me. But I guess I’m just sensitive about this kind of stuff. Or, am I simply sulking because of the missed opportunity to photograph and video these kids bounding and bashing about this fascinating environment?

Salton Sea area mud pots

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