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Salton Sea - 2006 TDS 4x4 Safari

Posted in Features on July 1, 2006
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Photographers: Kevin McNulty

It was cold and raining as we made our way into the desert, one vehicle lined up after another. Was rain going to kill our weekend away? Would we be able to witness great four-wheel action? As we made our way into the campground area for this year's 44th Annual Tierra Del Sol four-wheel-drive event, the winds were kicking up massive swarms of dust which reminded us that man is always at the mercy of his environment. It isn't often that we get the time to have the entire magazine's staff attend the same event, so there was no way we were going to turn back. Christian, Kevin, and I were prepared for a great weekend in the desert, no matter how much dirt we had to eat. It's a dirty job, and we gladly do it.

The Salton Sea is California's largest lake and is located in one of the state's most scenic desert destinations. At 35 miles long and 15 miles wide, the Salton Sea provides a formidable expanse for outdoor recreation. It was named in 1905, but its history begins in the Salton Basin of some 10,000 years ago. Historic evidence and geological studies have shown that the Colorado River spilled over into the Salton Basin on numerous occasions over the millennia, creating intermittent lakes. The first lake to arise was Lake Cahuilla in 700 AD, which was formed when the Colorado River silted up its normal egress to the Gulf of California and swung northward through overflow channels. In 1901, the California Development Company, seeking to realize the Imperial Valley's potential for agricultural productivity, dug irrigation canals from the Colorado River. Unfortunately, heavy floods broke through these canals and caused nearly all the river's flow to rush into the valley. By the time the breach was closed, the present-day Salton Sea had been formed.

Today, the Salton Sea is connected to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Area, both providing an excellent resource for four-wheel driving, hiking, camping, riding, photography, and more. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is open year-round and features numerous events from local four-wheel-drive club rides to sightseeing tours. The park covers over 600,000 acres with 500 miles of dirt roads and over 100 miles of established hiking and driving trails for all skill levels.

This year's TDS was located where the red "X" is on the map above, between Highways 86 South and 78 West.

This map was provided by is a great resource for location hiking, fishing, camping, four-wheel driving destinations, and more. The comprehensive website offers complete topographic maps as well as complete trail guides. For more information, contact

The Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club of San Diego, California, puts on the TDS 4x4 Safari each year with high hopes. Forty-two of the past 44 years, the event has taken place near the Salton Sea in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The club consists of 50 members who work very hard each year to put on the event. This year's event attracted over 1,500 registered vehicles! Combined with thousands of spectators, it is obvious the event is growing by leaps and bounds. The club provides challenging, organized trail runs for all levels from beginners to accomplished wheelers. Each year the vendor arena grows, with over 60 vendors on display at this year's event. If you missed this year, then you missed checking out some of the latest products from All-Pro Off-Road, MasterCraft Seats, BFGoodrich, Kilby Enterprises, Fabtech Motorsports, Four X Doctor, Rubicon Express, Off Road Warehouse (ORW), Warn, and many more. In addition, each year the club holds an annual raffle. This year, it was valued at $65,000 and offered seven sets of tires, four winches, four complete sets of custom seats, an Atlas transfer case, numerous rearends, and many other prizes.

Be sure to stay tuned for next year's TDS 4x4 Safari scheduled for March 3 and 4, 2007. You can sign up for it at

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