Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Calipatria

3.6
#316 of 515 in Wildlife in California
Wildlife Area · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is located north of the Mexican border at the southern end of the Salton Sea in California’s Imperial Valley. Situated along the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge is the only one of its kind, located below sea level. Because of its southern latitude, elevation and location in the Colorado Desert, the Refuge experiences some of the highest temperatures in the nation. Daily temperatures from May to October generally exceed 100 °F with temperatures of 116°–120 °F recorded yearly.
The refuge was established as a sanctuary and breeding ground for birds and wild animals in 1930. In 1998, the refuge was renamed after Congressman Sonny Bono, who played an active role in trying to save the Salton Sea. Originally, it included approximately. Nearly 60 percent of the original acreage was an open saline lake with the remainder being shoreline alkali flats, freshwater wetlands, native desert scrub and upland (farm fields). Due to the inflow of agricultural effluent and a subsequent rise in the level of the Salton Sea, all of the original Refuge area has been inundated. At present, only about 2,200acre manageable remain suitable for farming and wetland development.
The topography of the refuge is flat, except for Rock Hill, which is located at the refuge headquarters. The refuge is bordered by the Salton Sea on the north and intensively farmed agricultural lands on the east, south and west.
The refuge is composed of two disjunctive units, separated by of private lands. Each unit contains managed wetland habitat, agricultural fields, and tree rows. The courses of the New and Alamo rivers run through the refuge, providing freshwater inflow to the Salton Sea. Make Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge part of your personalized Calipatria itinerary using our Calipatria day trip planner.
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Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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Google
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TripAdvisor
  • I think the wildlife is dependent on the time of year. I loved the long walk to the top of the far off mountain tho the wind was ferocious. The view was worth it. Along the way I saw several large....  more
    I think the wildlife is dependent on the time of year. I loved the long walk to the top of the far off mountain tho the wind was ferocious. The view was worth it. Along the way I saw several large....  more »
  • Situated at the south end of the Salton Sea, lies the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Reserve. The originally sanctuary and breeding ground for birds and other wildlife when 32,766 acres were set aside....  more
    Situated at the south end of the Salton Sea, lies the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Reserve. The originally sanctuary and breeding ground for birds and other wildlife when 32,766 acres were set aside....  more »
Google
  • Stopped here on a drive from Phoenix to LA. The Salton Sea is such an interesting place! The visitor center and the restrooms were closed when I stopped, but I still took the hike as the sign recommended. It was a bit desolate, but there was beauty there as well. So interesting to see all the birds hanging out. And the walk up to the overlook peak was worth it. I also found some interesting rocks along the walk. The smell of the Salton Sea is like a porta potty.....at first I thought it was legit the porta potties I was smelling! But as I got away from them, I realized - nope - this is just the smell of the sea. Took a bit to get used to. I would highly recommend checking the Salton Sea out before it is gone.
  • The refuge is a very interesting place to visit. I went with my hiking group from the Desert Museum in Ocotillo, Ca. It was nice to have guides as they explained the Salton Sea and gave much insight into how important it is to wild life. You don’t have to have a guide to visit the refuge but you will learn so much if you receive a guided visit by some one from the Desert Museum. Enjoy! And go in the cooler months (November -March) and apply mosquito repellant .

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