Slab City (Barraza) Hot Springs - Hot Springs in California


One of America's last free places.

The hot spring in "Squatters' Paradise" was surprisingly muddy.

Slab City

Slab City, a community near Niland on the eastern shore of Lake Salton, is located on Camp Dunlap, a U.S. Marine Corps base established in 1942 during World War II.

Slab City
Thomas Hawk - Slab City (2014)
CC BY-NC 2.0

By 1956, all the buildings on the base had been demolished, the State of California owned the land, and the massive concrete slabs were abandoned.

Squatters settled there using the slabs for building materials, and today it is known as a place that attracts people who live outside the mainstream of society.

Hot water of anarchy

Entrance 01

Anyone who dares to live in Slab City without public electricity and running water in the harsh climate of the Sonoran Desert must have reasons.

Tanks 01

The population is estimated at 150 in the summer and 4,000 in the winter and is made up of a variety of people, including retirees, artists, fugitives, and the poor.

Tanks 02

The main industry is tourism, with installation art randomly scattered throughout the area.

At the entrance to such a community, there is a hot spring.

Community Box 01

Just before a gift shop, I drove into a wasteland lined with water storage tanks.

Pool 03

There were no obvious landmarks, and there was no sense of intent to actively promote the spring.

Pool 01

It was a circular pool of hot water that gushes out naturally on the surface of the desert.

Pool 02

It did not look like the kind of terrain where hot springs would spring up, which was surprising.

Water Surface 02

The mechanism by which the hot water is produced is unknown, but there was an apparent similarity to the nearby Niland Geyser.

See below for more on Niland Geiser.
You know a lot.
Fire Hydrant 01

The area around the pool was partially covered with concrete and an old faucet was installed.

Water Discharge 02

The water was discharged through a ditch on the south side, and a wooden bridge was crossed over it.

Water Discharge 01

The water temp was 104 degrees F.

I could see that the source was gushing with gas around the center of the pool.

Water Temp 01

It was accompanied by a weak sulfur smell, was close to muddy water in sensory perception, and was of questionable sanitary condition.

Water Surface 01

This place seemed to me more like a spot to enjoy an anarchic atmosphere than the water itself.

Soaking 01


Slab City (Barraza) Hot Springs, Niland, California, U.S.

My rating

Type: Undeveloped

Rule: Clothing optional

Chemical use: No

Water temp: Up to 104 degrees F

Related Hot Springs

The San Andreas Fault runs directly below Lake Salton, and active geothermal activities can be seen in the surrounding area.

Niland Geyser 01
Niland Geyser, Niland, California, U.S.

Niland Geyser is a "moving" mud volcano that is unique in the world and has severely impacted infrastructure such as the Union Pacific Railroad and State Route 111.

Next to a large geothermal power plant, viscous mud volcanos were smoking.

Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field 01
Davis-Schrimpf Seep Field, Calipatria, California, U.S.
  • Writer

Hot Springer Ken

A hot spring enthusiast based in Japan. Toured over 300 North American hot springs while working in Texas from 2016 to 2022. For updates, visit X or Instagram!

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