From its beginnings in the central Rocky Mountains and over millions of years, the Colorado River has flowed into the Gulf of California. Tributaries build volume as the river cuts southwest through the Colorado Plateau, carves through the Grand Canyon and makes a left turn for its run south through the Salton Trough and into the Sea of Cortez.
More recently, from 1862 to 1891, the Colorado River flooded into the basin and created short-lived lakes. A flood in 1905 overflowed into an agricultural diversion canal into the valley, created the New and Alamo Rivers, and filled what is now the Salton Sea. Since 1907 some 600 tons of salt have continue to flow into the lake by way of irrigation runoff.
Waterfowl began nesting and fish were planted, and in 1927, entrepreneur Gus Eilers opened Date Palm Beach Resort on the west shore and hosted boat-racing events at the new water-park oasis. By the 1920s the Salton Sea had become a destination for famous people, and for a couple of decades thousands flocked there in hopes of catching a glimpse of Guy Lombardo, Jerry Lewis, or Frank Sinatra. Lots were plotted and sold and the lake’s population grew. This heyday faded as the salinity levels rose and the resort became an abandoned dream. More waterfowl and fish died off each year due to algae blooms and salinity levels; only the tilapia have survived.
The Salton Sea still hosts over 400 species of migratory birds. Several efforts have been made to bring awareness and to reverse Salton Sea’s failing health. One nonprofit dedicated to the recovery of the Salton Sea’s biodiversity, named SEAthletes, will be hosting the inaugural North Shore Xtreme, a competition where over 500 athletes will be competing in outrigger and stand-up paddle races. This outrigger and SUP racing event is free for spectators on Saturday. For participants, the $40 all-access pass includes the Cowboy Cookout on Friday, races, the awards ceremony, and dance Saturday. Sunday morning, yoga and a trail hike and paddling get-together will be offered before checkout.