Just to the south of Primm and the Lotto Store sits the Ivanpah Dry Lake. It is thirteen square miles and almost entirely in California.
The dry lake bed, which is also known as a playa, has a sprawling flat, smooth surface. The lake is a relic from an earlier time when there was more water in the region.
The Ivanpah Dry Lake is a stark, beautiful contrast to the jagged mountain ridges on its east and west flanks.
While the lake is usually bone dry, on rare occasions it has some water in it. After heavy rains in 2004 and 2005, the lake filled with water.
The lake bed is a popular place for land sailing and kite buggying. In these activities, sailors use the wind to propel their ‘boats’, which have wheels traveling over the flat sandy surface.
With Ivanpah Dry Lake’s large, flat surface, it’s a premier spot for land sailing. The dry lake is also conveniently located off I-15 and easily accessed from Primm.
The conveniences that Primm offers nearby including lodging, food, and entertainment are an added bonus. Las Vegas is also only forty miles away.
In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water carrying radioactive was spilled into and around Ivanpah Dry Lake. The source of the contamination was the Mountain Pass rare earth mine.
The mine was piping wastewater as a byproduct of mining activity down the mountain to the desert valley floor below the mine.
The pipeline repeatedly ruptured causing lots of spillage including radioactive radium and thorium.
The owner of the mine at the time, Unocal, paid more than $1.4 million dollars in fees and legal payments as a result of the spills.
Unocal also prepared a cleanup plan and completed an extensive environmental study to attempt to remediate the damage.
In addition to the attractions that Primm offers, the Ivanpah Dry Lake bed is in a warm, desert location at an elevation of 2,608 feet.
Above the western flank of the dry lake, west of I-15, lies the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, which is a massive solar regeneration power plant.
Southeast of the dry lake is the town of Nipton, which is a small desert community with an interesting history. Nipton Road connects Nipton to I-15 and crosses the southern part of the dry lake.