A short hike from the northeast shore of the Salton Sea leads to six small caves that are actually inhabited by bats.
After parking at the abandoned Cafe in Durmid (ghost town), I crossed the highway and made my way through this pipe that was located underneath the railroad tracks. You can actually walk over the train tracks but that just wouldn’t cut it for me. The hike to the Buttes is approximately 1 to 1.5 miles each way, depending on how much you want to explore once you get to the Buttes.
The Buttes were formed when the San Andreas Fault forced strata layers upward. The caves are actually voids in the strata which occur naturally when weaker layers crumble from between harder layers.
The Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when Colorado River flood flows breached an irrigation diversion structure and temporarily flowed into the then-dry Salton Sink. It is possible that the churning water may have been partially responsible for collapsing weaker sections of strata, creating the voids. The present sea is only the latest in a succession of waterbodies occupying the Salton Sink. The sink was once part of the Gulf of California in the distant geologic past. As the Colorado River and its tributaries carved out the Grand Canyon and incised channels in the upper river basin, enormous quantities of sediment were carried downstream to the river’s mouth. These sediments eventually created a drainage divide, located near present-day Yuma, Arizona that cut off the Salton Sink from the gulf.
The butte was rising one millimeter per year until the Landers Earthquake in 1992. This quake relieved the stress on this particular geological feature, and it has moved only slightly since then.
A hike to the top of the butte will take you 85 feet above the desert floor, and some 300 feet above the Salton Sea’s current surface level.
These are not deep caves but you can comfortably walk into most of them. I was able to identify the presence of bats in two of the caves. Townsend’s Big-Eared Bats (Considered endangered and protected) and Mouse Eared Bats are known to occupy the area.
I actually found this strange memorial affixed to the top of one of the caves. I was able to verify their names, birth and death dates online but everything else is a mystery. Were they brother and sister? Husband and wife? Was this cave special to them in some way? I wish I knew the whole story.
Bye Bat Cave Buttes.
Protecting and preserving historic, sacred, and sensitive sites should be practiced by all. Locations, directions, and names to some of the places found on this site are not listed, please don’t ask for them. Tread lightly, leave no trace and always respect the wonder that surrounds you.