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Slab City, CA

We took some time to go see The Slabs last weekend near Niland, CA. Take Hwy. 111 to Niland and turn east on Main St. which then becomes Beal Road and follow it out past the RR tracks until you see Salvation Mountain and then you are there. Once upon a time it was a military base but now all that is left of it are the slabs the buildings used to stand on. A little impromptu unofficial city has built up here as snowbirds and those with nowhere else to go come from all over the country to boondock (no utilities) totally free with no building codes, taxes, or rules. Artists and religious folk seem to be drawn to this stark place. Many a musician can be heard in The Range. Groups of LOWs (Loners On Wheels) and Escapees campers have circled their modern wagons in their own areas. Old and decrepit RVs are sprinkled around among those worth hundreds of thousands. It is a place for everyone though not everyone likes it here. Without rules, of course, comes noisy fun-loving neighbors and lots and lots of trash (there are no trash cans or services there). Tenters come as well though there are no restrooms so watch where you step around them.

Salvation MountainSlab CitySlab City boondocker

The biggest crowd comes during the winter and many return year after year. Some tough it out all year even in 118 degree heat. Some of the permanent residents have house attic turbine vents installed on their RV roofs. Many have lean-tos setup for shade. Trash can be hauled into Niland to a dumpster. Dumping tanks costs $10 in Niland but many go 10 miles south on Hwy 111 to the rest area to get water and dump their tanks free.

We didn’t see as many solar panels as we expected. There were several wind turbines and they were spinning pretty fast. Gas generators could be heard.

We checked the signal there and we were able to get phone signals for Verizon and Boost out there. I was even able to browse the Internet there so work over the Internet is possible from there. They do also have a free Internet cafe.

Checkout  their skate park and a dip in their hot springs (clothing optional).

Slab City Resident

Greeting you on arrival is an unmanned booth with “Last Free Place” and You Are Almost There” painted on it. Past that is Salvation Mountain, built by Leonard Knight to praise God. It is 3 stories high and made of dirt, mortar, and paint. It is a beautiful piece of art and affirmation. To one side is a colorful small mountain with alcoves filled with God’s praises. Once done looking there, follow the yellow path up the main mountain to the cross on top and an excellent view of the RV areas beyond it. For you geocachers, this is a virtual geocache so be sure to get a picture of yourself and your GPS in front of or on Salvation Mountain. Winking smile  There are many other caches in the area too.

Slab City Almost ThereSalvation MountainSalvation alcove

I can see why folks come here. It would be nice to save on rent and utilities for 6 months a year here in the winter or all year if you can take the heat. There is certainly lots of socializing going on too.

On the way out, be sure to check out the back of the unmanned booth. It says something like “Returning to Reality” on it. LOL

On the way down to the slabs we stumbled on Imperial Dunes where it seemed a 4 wheeling event was going on. There were lots of RVs parked in the dunes and more coming in constantly. Out in the dunes were numerous ATVs, dune buggies, and dirt bikes and all had flags on them to be easily seen.

Imperial DunesImperial Dunes RVs

Headed home, we drove up the east side of the Salton Sea and checked out the state park there at the Salton Sea Recreational Area. I wouldn’t recommend going there in hot months when it can stink to high heaven but the smell is fine in winter and the state park was very nice. Kayaking appears to be real popular there as evidenced by all the kayaks on the beach. As we stood watching the sunset, a straight line of about 50 geese glided within inches of the water and squawked their goodbyes as they flew in a northern direction. We know. We know. The snowbirds have also started moving on and are leaving our campground more empty every day. In another month, we will join the flocks.

Salton Sea State Park

For more pics click here.

1 comment to Slab City, CA

  • Thanks for the memories. I spent time camping on the Slabs, as far out as I could get to be away from the generator noise.

    Spring along the Sea is smelly and mass flies.

    Great post about a place most people will never experience.

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