"Normal" Places We Go

The Salton Sea: Pictures And Scenes Of Slab City

After driving through Niland, I visited Salvation Mountain which merited its own post.  However, just past Salvation Mountain, one finds Slab City:

Slab City (or The Slabs) is a camp next to the Salton Sea used by RV owners and squatters from across North America and the world. It takes its name from the concrete slabs and pylons that remain from the abandoned Marine Barracks Camp Dunlap there. Apparently, a group of Marines remained after the base closed, and the place has been inhabited ever since.

Several thousand people, use the site during the winter months. These “snowbirds” stay only for the winter, before migrating north in the spring to cooler climes. The temperatures are pretty brutal during the summer; nonetheless, there is a group of around 150 permanent residents, who live in the Slabs all year round. Most of these “Slabbers” subsist on government checks (SSI and Social Security).  However, in a slight contradiction, many of the “slabbers” also have a strong desire for freedom from the American government.

Slab City is both decommissioned and uncontrolled – there is no charge for parking your RV. The camp has no electricity, no running water or other services (most campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity).

Slab City, along with Salvation Mountain, was featured in the book Into the Wild and also in the 2007 movie of the same name.

I thought my father (Jimmy) summed up Slab City very well when upon reviewing my pictures he commented that it looked like a permanent Burning Man camp.

slab city welcome

slab city last free place

the rats nest slab city

slab city

the slabs

slab city


the slabs

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salton sea slab city

the slabs california



I’m glad there are places like Slab City in the world…

One thought on “The Salton Sea: Pictures And Scenes Of Slab City

    By Peter Sutherland


    Set beside the Imperial Valley in southeastern California, the Salton Sea area was supposed to be Hollywood’s answer to the Riviera back in the 50s. But its developers failed to anticipate the raw sewage that would run up the New River from Mexico and make survival impossible for many aquatic species. Rotting fish guts and toxic debris soon littered the shoreline. Construction projects were abandoned, and yet another impotent vision of luxury tourism was left flaccid. Thanks again, trash!

    Today the entire Imperial Valley is an apocalyptic dustbowl in the center of the California badlands. We set out to explore this fetid bouillabaisse. What we found were remnants of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, a half-million-acre plot that was once the practice site for various governmental bombardiers. It is the place of business for the residents of a nearby compound known as Slab City—a mostly insane coterie of fun-hunting drifters, vets, addicts, artists, and crazies who subsist on sautéed snake, lukewarm Tecate, money earned from scrapping bombshell fragments, and what’s left of their wits. It’s pretty much all that remains of the Wild West.

    Get to know the cast of the Slab City funny farm this month on Toxic on VBS.TV.

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