The large basin before you is all that remains of a prehistoric sea. One of the largest undisturbed alkali wetlands in the state, the 3,000 acre lake provides important habitat for migratory birds. With no outlet, the water evaporates, leaving behind a glistening expanse of sodium sulfate and carbonate salts that appear to ripple and sway in the heat waves of summer.
In the 1880s, the saline deposits of Soda lake were mined for use at nearby cattle ranches as salt licks or for preserving meat. Prior to 1908, the Carrisa Chemical Company constructed a 600 ton per month capacity processing plant to recover sodium sulfate, used primarily in the production of craft paper, detergents, and glass. They also built a narrow-gauge railroad which started at the lake and ended at the base of the Temblor Mountains. Mineral production ceased in the 1950s and the railroad was removed.