The Salton Sea, California's largest lake by volume, exists entirely by accident.
It was created in the early 1900s after a heavy rain caused the Colorado River to burst through the banks of an irrigation canal, sending millions of gallons of water into a previously dried out lake bed in the California desert.
In the 50s and 60s, it was a booming tourist attraction. Marketed as a "miracle in the desert," it became Palm Springs but with beaches. It would regularly attract over half a million visitors annually. Stars like the Beach Boys and Sonny Bono would visit to drive speedboats and swim.
But it wouldn't last.
The sea quickly became something of an ecological nightmare soup. The Salton Sea is surrounded by nearly half a million acres of agricultural land, and water from this land runs off into the sea, taking with it salt and fertilizers and pesticides. By the 70s, the water was becoming too hostile to sustain much of any kind of life, and the shoreline became littered with thousands and thousands of dead fish.
The dead fish, combined with rotting algal blooms, made the water smell so bad that nobody wanted to go anywhere near it.
The Beach Boys left. Sonny Bono left. Everyone else left, and the Salton Sea fell into misery.
If you were just driving past on Highway 111, you could be forgiven for thinking it's still a nice place. The weather is pleasant, the beaches are white, and flocks of birds glide along the blue surface of the water.
But, as you climb out of your car and get close, it becomes a big old mess. The white beaches, it turns out, are white because they're made up of the pulverized bones of millions of dead fish.
And then the smell hits you. It's like a fish market at the end of a long summer day. Only instead of keeping the fish on ice, this fish market keeps them on piles of diarrhea.
Bombay Beach is the most developed place on the shores of the Salton Sea and it was once a pretty nice place. But then the sea started to burst its banks, regularly flooding large parts of the town. In the 80s, it became apparent that nothing could be done about it, so officials built a dike around half of the town and just let the sea take what it wanted.
Because of this, the shore is littered with dilapidated structures, falling apart as they sink into the ground. Of the town that hasn't sunk into the ground, about a third of it is abandoned (text copied from this site).
It definitely has a very apocalypse-y feel.
Home sweet hell.