Exploring The Slot Trail In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!

Dramatic colorful canyons, big horn sheep enjoying the ocotillo, and scouring through the narrow Slot Trail made for a perfect outdoor activity on a beautiful day in sunny California. We are starting the new year already with a little adventure and hiking, exploring, and navigating through this picturesque and historic state park.

Did you know? That Borrego in Spanish means bighorned sheep?

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is home to almost 650,000 acres that also contain over 500 miles of unpaved roads for exploration! It is certainly not just another desert mountain playground.

Our adventure began as we made our way onto 78 East / San Pasqual Valley Road toward desert lands. This path leads us through many curvy roads, through snow capped mountain peaks, and several small towns. As we came closer to the Borrego Springs area, we saw several big horn sheep together on the hillside not far from the highway. The directions coming from San Diego area: (Directions)

78 East / San Pasqual Valley Road (7.7 Mi)
Left onto Olive Street (.3 mi)
Right onto 7th Street (.2 mi)
Left onto Main Street (.6 mi)
Continue onto 78E (17.6 mi)
Left onto Wynola Road (4.1 mi)
Left onto 78 E (26.4 mi)
Left (1.0)
Continue onto Borrego Mountain Wash (.8 mi)

As we came closer to reaching our destination at Borrego Springs, we stopped at a great little bakery in San Ysabel, California. This little cute shop called Dudley’s Bakery had several neat trinkets, collectibles, treats, and sandwiches. They offer fresh items from raw honey to healing salt lamps, and they also have very nice clean bathrooms.

We continued on our way searching for the dirt road that leads to the Slot Canyon Trail, which is on Buttes Pass Road. However, this road is not so easy to find, as if you blink or simply watch the road, you will miss this small, low brown sign. Instead of driving further, we decided to stop in at the Octotillo Wells facility where you can rent motorcycles and four wheelers, etc. They provided a map and the information needed as we continued to make our way to The Slot. See map below.

Map to The Slot hiking trail.

This trail is very easy, and so much fun as you find your way through these interesting canyon walls and narrow pathways.

The Slot.

We found ourselves squeezing through narrow openings, up and under boulders, and then as we entered the wide-open canyon areas we made our voices heard in echoes. It was a beautiful day that had us glancing up to see the bright blue sky as it made its backdrop against the sandstone colored canyons.

The Slot Trail will take you through the slot narrow wash, then you will continue out to an open area where you see the result of water and erosion of earth faults that caused hardened sediments to rise up and tilt over millions of years then causing mountains to shift and become higher.

Some people will hike into the Slot and go to the end of the narrow pathways, then turnaround and go back to the parking area. We continued on the hiking path forward that took us on a loop up and around the rolling hills/canyons and we saw beautiful views of the desert area. In addition, you can walk along the rim and see where you’ve just hiked through the slot canyon areas.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offers a vast amount of archaeological history. In fact according the park publication, the park has been the scientific study by geologists and paleontologists for at least 150 years. As well, Paleontologists have discovered fossils of so many organisms that at one time, made their home here in the Anza desert, millions of years ago. These include the following:

  • Sea: Corals, sand dollars, oysters, clams, snails and others.
  • Lakes & Rivers: fan palms, walnut and avocado trees, snails, giant tortoise, lizards. Terror birds, sloth, saber-tooth cats, and others.
  • Air: Ducks, hawks, eagles, flamingos, and others.

Currently, there are many volunteer programs with respect to the paleontology, archeology, ecology, climatology, geology and other related fields of study of this desert area. There is also a Paleontology Certification Training Program; you can contact District Paleontologist, at 760-767-4974.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a great place to visit and explore! Plan your trip and see what you discover, as there are several hiking trails and canyons to explore depending on your timeline, check out these things to see and do:

Ocotillo plant.


  1. 4 WD: Fonts Point: Four miles of driving on dirt road and views of Borrego Badlands.
    1. Desert Gardens
  1. 2 WD: Erosion Road:  visit the Visitor Center for more information
  2. HIKING:
    1. The Slot: a short 1.5 mile hike through slot canyon
    2. Narrows Earth Trail: .5 mile hike
    3. Bill Kenyon Overlook: One mile hike to a grand vista
    4. All Access Trail: near the Visitor Center
    5. Culp Valley All Access Trail: Higher elevation hike through plant community with views of Hellhole Canyon
    6. Elephant Tree Nature Trail: Easy One mile trail (4WD is needed to reach the trailhead)
    7. Cactus Loop Nature Trail: One mile, a bit strenuous, on uneven surface.


  1. Split Mountain Via Fish Creek (4 WD)
  2. 17 Palms Oasis: (4WD)
  3. Blair Valley and Box Canyon (2WD)


  1. Borrego Palm Canyon Trail: 3 mile roundtrip hike through bighorn sheep area. Crowded in the Springtime.
  2. Wind Caves: (4WD Required)
  3. Alcoholic Pass: 2 mile roundtrip: Steep hike to app overlooking Coyote Canyon and Clark Valley
  4. Yaqui Well Nature Trail: 1.5 mile one way trail
  5. Box Canyon: Walk where the Mormon Battalion hacked out a wagon road for early travelers

Did you know? That Tarantulas are the largest spiders in the United States?


Be careful and mindful of looking down and keep an eye out for scorpions, snakes, and tarantulas.

Primitive camping is allowed in designated areas. (Some grounds may not be open year round).
Dogs are not allowed cross-country or on hiking trails.
Drones are prohibited.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center
200 Palm Canyon Drive

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