Imperial County

Imperial County is in the California Desert at the extreme southeast corner of the state. Locally this area is known as the Imperial Valley.


Map of Imperial County

  • 1 Bombay Beach
  • 2 Brawley
  • 3 Calexico
  • 4 Calipatria
  • 5 El Centro
  • 6 Imperial
  • 7 Niland
  • 8 Salton City - Salton City was established in 1958 with infrastructure to support 40,000 residents, but as the Salton Sea evaporated and became more polluted the planned resort community never developed. Today, despite being home to several thousand residents, it is a modern day ghost town, with vacant lots, empty roads, and a large marina that barely contains any water.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Salton Sea - California's largest lake formed when an irrigation canal burst in 1905 and flooded the Salton Basin for more than a year. This unusual area is home to geothermal features, a wildlife refuge, the partially built resort community of Salton City, and the "profoundly strange" artwork of Salvation Mountain in the squatter town of Slab City.
  • 2 Slab City - Slab City is a remote corner of the desert built on the foundations (slabs) of the former World War II US Marine Camp Dunlap. It is home to permanent and itinerant residents consisting of snow birds, artists, military veterans, anarchists, neo-libertarians and others living in motorhomes and camping trailers who have formed an informal off-grid community. Salvation Mountain, a brightly colored religious artwork that covers an entire hillside, is the most prominent of many artistic works that visitors will encounter while driving through the area.
  • 3 Republic of Slowjamastan (off California State Route 78 between Ocotillo Wells and Westmorland). A micronation in the southern California desert. In the United Territories of the Sovereign Nation of The People’s Republic of Slowjamastan, Crocs are illegal and seats in the rubber-stamp parliament can be bought for just $35. Visitors require a visa (apply online) to enter the republic; it holds occasional events, announced in state news outlet The Sultan Sun. Or you can always stop by unannounced to take pictures of the border signs. Slowjamastan (Q119661998) on Wikidata Republic of Slowjamastan on Wikipedia


The Imperial Valley was settled as a farming community in the early 1900s, and has remained a primary producer of winter vegetables and an area filled with cattle feedlots. Flooding from the Colorado River has wiped out the valley a number of times in the early part of the 20th century; now a series of canals controls the water flow. The flooding produced the Salton Sea, a large alkaline lake that nearly bisects the entire county.

The soil is fertile but highly alkaline. The watershed drains to the Salton Sea; the entire area was once underwater as the Gulf of California.

The area newspaper is the Imperial Valley Press.


A large portion of the population is Mexican immigrants, so while English is more common, many transactions take place entirely in Spanish.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Imperial County Airport IPL IATA is served by one airline with one destination: Mokulele Airlines from Los Angeles.
  • Yuma International Airport YUMIATA in neighboring Yuma, Arizona is served by American Eagle from Phoenix and Dallas.
  • The closest full-service airports in the United States are San Diego International SANIATA and Palm Springs International PSPIATA.
  • The closest full-service airport in neighboring Mexico is Mexicali MXLIATA.

By car[edit]

  • I-8 comes into El Centro from San Diego, Yuma, or Phoenix (via AZ SR-85)
  • One can come from the Coachella Valley cities (Palm Springs, Indio) via CA-86 or CA-111.
  • Coming in from Mexicali, Mexico, one enters Calexico on CA-111 or CA-7 (Calexico East Port of Entry).
  • You would come in from Blythe or Quartzsite, AZ via CA-78 (Ben Hulse Highway).

By bus[edit]

  • Greyhound has stops in El Centro and Calexico for buses from San Diego, Phoenix, Yuma, or Los Angeles.
  • Yuma YCAT's Turquoise 10 Route comes from Yuma Downtown and stops at the Imperial Valley Mall, El Centro Regional Medical Center, and the bus terminal at State St./7th.
    • Please note that taking trips within El Centro on this route is not permitted. Consider taking IVT instead.

Get around[edit]

More often than not, you will need to get to places by car due to the lack of accessible or frequent public transportation.

However, Imperial Valley Transit (IVT) offers service between El Centro and Calexico, Imperial, Brawley, Calipatria, Niland (near Slab City), Seeley (for NAF-El Centro), or Holtville. Service on Saturday is more limited than weekdays, but very limited service does operate on Sundays between Calexico, El Centro, and Brawley. Furthermore, it is possible to get to Bombay Beach via bus, but this service is only available once per way on Thursdays from Brawley.

Stay safe[edit]

Imperial County is essentially a safe area. But, it is still known to have gangs so always take precautions, such as not walking alone at night.

Imperial County also has very harsh summers. It's known to have temperatures over 110 °F (43 °C) in the summer (mostly from June to September) and have high humidity from June to October so always bring water with you everywhere. Becoming dehydrated is very easy to achieve, so always drink water, even if you are not thirsty.

Call 911 for police, fire dept, or ambulance.

Go next[edit]

Neighboring counties

  • 1 San Diego County - San Diego County borders Imperial County to the west. The city of San Diego sprawls across the county's southwestern portion, with attractions that include the museums and famed zoo of lush Balboa Park, the upscale seaside community of La Jolla with its scenic coves and marine life, and the historic district of Old Town which is home to California's oldest Spanish mission. In contrast to its populous western side, the county's eastern half is a mountainous desert that attracts campers, hikers and OHV aficionados. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park dominates this side of the county; after wet winters America's second-largest state park attracts hordes of visitors in the spring to admire the acres of desert wildflowers that carpet the normally barren ground.
  • 2 Riverside County - Bordering Imperial County to the north, Riverside County's western portions include the far outskirts of Los Angeles, as well as more rural areas like Temecula, known for its wineries and hot air balloons. The majority of the county lies in the desert, with the most-visited portion being Palm Springs and its neighboring resort towns. Further east the county is essentially uninhabited, and includes the remote, rocky desert of Joshua Tree National Park, and the empty landscapes west of the Colorado River.
  • 3 Western Arizona
  • 4 Baja California
This region travel guide to Imperial County is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!