Imperial County in Southern Californiaa's desert region near Baja Mexico and San Diego County includes the incorporated cities of Brawley, Calexico, Calipatria, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial and Westmorland in addition to unincorporated communities such as Winterhaven and Seeley. Though the climate is dry and hot during the summer months, the region enjoys arts, entertainment, museums, theatre and special events throughout the year.

The largest city in Imperial County is El Centro. Billed as business-friendly and touted by local government as Southern California's most promising new commercial and industrial region, El Centro features two border crossings (nearby) and enjoys a location 117 miles east of San Diego and 245 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona.

Things to do: Pacific Southwest Railway Museum features train rides to several locations. One excursion goes to Tecate, Mexico. Reservations are required for this day trip, a unique rail experience that spans an International Border. Dining in the village and brewery tours are available. Another popular train ride includes The Golden State Limited ride between Campo and Miller Creek or between Campo and Division. Visit the museum web site for a schedule and prices:

Because of the summer heat, many events take place in the winter months.  A historical museum actually closes during the summer and the tourist season in this region launches in the Fall (around October) through Spring (March-April). California Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta at the Imperial Valley Fairgrounds is normally held in the spring. Other events at the fairground facilities include stock car racing, usually September through May.

IMPERIAL COUNTY LANDMARKS include mission sites, Gold Rush sites, several forts, camps and roads. The Southern California desert county near Baja Mexico was an entry point for migrations from Mexico, the country that once laid claim to California lands. California established itself as a United States property and became a US state in 1850.

NO. 1008 YUHA WELL - Known as Santa Rosa de Las Lajas (Flat Rocks), this site was used on March 8, 1774 by the Anza Exploring Expedition, opening the land route from Sonora, Mexico, to Alta California. On December 11 to 15, 1775, the three divisions of Anza's colonizing expedition used this first good watering spot beyond the Colorado River on the way from Sonora to San Francisco.

Location: Eastbound Sunbeam Roadside Rest Area, between Drew and Forrester Rds (P.M. R31.3), on I-8 near Seeley

NO. 182 TUMCO MINES - Pete Walters of Ogilby discovered the first gold vein at Gold Rock on January 6, 1884. From his Little Mary Claim began a gold camp which reached its peak development between 1893 and 1899 as Hedges, with 3,200 residents. Nearly closed, 1900-10, it was reopened as Tumco, 1910-13, and worked intermittently until 1941. Tumco has long been a California ghost town.

Location: On Gold Rack Ranch Rd, 1.0 mi E of County Hwy 834, 9.0 mi N of I-8, 4.5 mi NE of Ogilby
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: OGILBY 15

NO. 193 PICACHO MINES - Opened by placer miners after 1852, the gold mines expanded into hard rock quarrying by 1872. Picacho employed 700 miners at its peak from 1895 to 1900. Mill accidents, low ore quality, and the loss of cheap river transport with the building of Laguna Dam led to numerous periods of inactivity. With ores far from worked out, the Picacho Mines, using modern techniques, again resumed operations in 1984.
Location: On Picacho Rd, 18.2 mi N of Winterhaven

NO. 194 MOUNTAIN SPRINGS STATION - In 1862-70, about a mile north of here Peter Larkin and Joe Stancliff used a stone house as a store from which ox teams pulled wagons up a 30% grade. The San Diego and Fort Yuma Turnpike Co. used the site as a toll road station until 1876. The crumbling house was replaced in 1917 by another still visible to its east. But road changes, beginning in 1878 and culminating in today's highway, have left the older stone house ruins inaccessible.
Location: Site is 200 ft W of westbound lane, I-8 (P.M. 2.3), just N of Mountain Springs Rd, 2.3 mi E of county line, Mountain Springs. Plaque is located adjacent to Desert View Tower, approximately 100 yards distant from the Desert View Tower landmark plaque.

Note: There currently is another MISSION LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN near Lompoc, California

NO. 350 MISSION LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN (site of) - In October 1780, Father Francisco Garcés and companions began Mission La Purísima Concepción. The mission/pueblo site was inadequately supported. Colonists ignored Indian rights, usurped the best lands, and destroyed Indian crops. Completely frustrated and disappointed, the Quechans (Yumas) and their allies destroyed Concepción on July 17-19, 1781.
Location: St. Thomas Indian Mission, Indian Hill on Picacho Rd, Fort Yuma, 1 mi S of Winterhaven

NO. 569 MORMON ISLAND - Early in March 1848, W. Sidney, S. Willis, and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter's Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the south fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the fort, and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named Mormon Island. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall's discovery at Coloma. The population of the town in 1853 was more than 2,500. It had four hotels, three dry-goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office, and many small shops. The first ball in Sacramento County was held here on December 25, 1849. A fire destroyed the town in 1856, and it was never rebuilt. Its site was inundated by Folsom Lake in 1955.
Location: Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, N side, Dyke 8 picnic area, 3 mi NE of Folsom

NO. 806 FORT YUMA - Originally called Camp Calhoun, the site was first used as a U.S. military post in 1849. A fire destroyed the original buildings. By 1855 the barracks had been rebuilt. Called Camp Yuma in 1852, it became Fort Yuma after reconstruction. Transferred to the Department of the Interior and the Quechan Indian Tribe in 1884, it became a boarding school operated by the Catholic Church until 1900.
Location: On bank of Colorado River, 350 Picacho Rd, Winterhaven
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: YUMA EAST

NO. 808 CAMP SALVATION - Here, on September 23, 1849, Lieut. Cave J. Couts, Escort Commander, International Boundary Commission, established Camp Salvation. From September till the first of December 1849, it served as a refugee center for distressed emigrants attempting to reach the gold fields over the Southern Emigrant Trail.
Location: Rockwood Plaza, Sixth St E at Heber Ave, Calexico
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: CALEXICO

NO. 845 PLANK ROAD - This unique plank road, seven miles long, was the only means early motorists had of crossing the treacherous Imperial sand dunes. The 8-by-12-foot sections were moved with a team of horses whenever the shifting sands covered portions of the road. Double sections were placed at intervals to permit vehicles to pass.
Location: Algodones Sand Dunes County Rest Area, S side of I-8 (P.M. 77.4), 18 mi W of Winterhaven
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: GLAMIS 15

NO. 921 SITE OF MISSION SAN PEDRO Y SAN PABLO DE BICUNER - To protect the Anza Trail where it forded the Colorado River, the Spanish founded a pueblo and mission nearby on January 7, 1781. Threatened with the loss of their land, the Quechans (Yumas) attacked this strategic settlement on July 17, 1781. The Quechan victory closed this crossing and seriously crippled future communications between upper California and Mexico.
Location: On County Rd 524, 0.2 mi W of intersection of Levee and Mehring Rds, 4.4 mi NE of Bard

NO. 939 Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments (Thematic) -CHARLEY'S WORLD OF LOST ART - Charles Kasling began sculpturing near Andrade in 1967, and his creations now fill a site of approximately two and a half acres. His style, best described as eclectic, was inspired partly by his world travels with the U.S. Navy and partly by the desert terrain.
Location: On dirt rd, 0.5 mi NW of Andrade, 7 mi SW of Winterhaven
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: YUMA WEST

NO. 944 SITE OF FORT ROMUALDO PACHECO - In 1774, Spain opened an overland route from Sonora to California but it was closed by Yuma Indians in 1781. In 1822, Mexico attempted to reopen this route. Lt. Romualdo Pacheco and soldiers built an adobe fort at this site in 1825-26, the only Mexican fort in Alta California. On April 26, 1826, Kumeyaay Indians attacked the fort, killing three soldiers and wounding three others. Pacheco abandoned the fort, removing soldiers to San Diego.
Location: W bank of New River, S of Worthington Rd, 6-1/2 mi due W of City of Imperial

NO. 985 DESERT TRAINING CENTER, CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA MANEUVER AREA (ESTABLISHED BY MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.) - CAMP CLIPPER - Camp Clipper was established at a site that reached from Essex Road to this location in the Spring of 1942. It was one of twelve such camps built in the southwestern deserts to harden and train United States troops for service on the battlefields of World War II. The Desert Training Center was a simulated theater of operations that included portions of California, Arizona, and Nevada. The other camps were Young, Coxcomb, Iron Mountain, Ibis, Granite, Pilot Knob, Laguna, Horn, Ryder, Bouse and Rice. A total of 13 infantry divisions and 7 armored divisions plus numerous smaller units were trained in this harsh environment. The Training Center was in operation for almost two years and was closed early in 1944 when the last units were shipped overseas. During the brief period of operation over one million American soldiers were trained for combat. The 33rd and 93rd Infantry Divisions were trained here.
Location: 37 mi W of Needles on I-40 and 115 mi E of Barstow at Fenner Rest Area eastbound


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