Sunday, February 3, 2013

Slab City

Reminder - you can click on any of the photos for a larger version.

Slab City is what remains of the administrative area of Camp Dunlap, a WWII Marine artillery training facility east of the Salton Sea in Southern California. It is a study in diversity with a dichotomy of year-around residents, people desiring to withdraw from society, people struggling to make ends meet, and some apparently affluent snowbirds.

In spite of the decorated guard shack, new faces are met with initial skepticism. Even among the people here, there are strongly differing opinions. For example, there are two websites claiming to be "the" official website of Slab City. The permanent residents have one and some of the snowbirds have a different one.

Unlike most boondocking locations, this one isn't administered by anyone except the residents who have declared it "The Last Free Place." There is a lot of negative written about the Slabs, mostly by people expecting another shade of suburbia. In some ways, it's closer to a third world country.

Artwork comes in all forms, from small jewelry to "yard art" to massive murals on abandoned concrete tanks.

In addition to some fancy new motorhomes, the Slabs features homes in all shapes and sizes from an old milk truck

to a 1950's Greyhound Scenicruiser

to a Ford bus featuring a Volkswagen penthouse.

I ended up camping near the southwest corner, outside of the Slabs proper, after touring much of the area. I'd found a nice spot in the back, but with poor connectivity for my Millenicom hotspot. In front, I had 4 bars without the antenna or amplifier and a view of the Salton Sea in the sunset.

When I left, I was reminded that there was reality ahead. In my opinion, the reality of the Slabs is likely too raw for many to enjoy.


  1. Thanks - yours is the first report I've read of someone staying there. I always wondered about that place.

  2. Reminder...the link to the "snowbird" website costs $5 bucks to view. Don't bother. Much more info is on by the residents. (Haven't seen that guy for years!)

    There is also a community info site where the notes to the community meetings and other local info regarding the issues.

    Nice pics you have here. Next time you are out, come see the "Money Down the Toilet" art displaying trash like batteries, glass, toys, forks, etc that were found while cleaning up 1030 Low Rd Slab (Formerly the Mess Hall). There is even a toilet completely covered in Cig butts! hehe.

  3. What a great overview. The Slabs are still on my someday list but perhaps off my maybe list. ;)