Dramatic colorful canyons, big horn sheep enjoying the ocotillo, and a beautiful sunny California day. It’s a perfect time to hike the slot trail in Anza Borrego Desert State Park! 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 Anza and 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)
Turn Left onto Wynola Road (4.1 mi)
Take a Left onto 78 E (26.4 mi)
Continue onto Borrego Mountain Wash (.8 mi)
As we came closer to reaching our destination and the slot trail at Anza 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.
Finding The Slot
As we continue on our way searching for the dirt road that leads to the Anza Borrego Slot Canyon Trail, it is very difficult find. The road is called Buttes Pass Road. We finally saw the sign after turning around, it is a small, low brown sign. Instead of driving further, we decide to stop in at the Octotillo Wells facility where you can rent motorcycles and four wheelers, etc. They gave me a map and the information so we can make our way The Slot. See map below.
This trail is very easy, and so much fun as you find your way through these interesting canyon walls and narrow pathways.
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 Hiking Trail
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.
Things To Do
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:
COUPLE HOURS TIME: WD=Wheel Drive
4 WD: Fonts Point: Four miles of driving on dirt road and views of Borrego Badlands.
2 WD: Erosion Road: You can find more information at the Visitor Center.
- The Slot: a short 1.5 mile hike through slot canyon
- Narrows Earth Trail: .5 mile hike
- Bill Kenyon Overlook: One mile hike to a grand vista
- All Access Trail: near the Visitor Center
- Culp Valley All Access Trail: Higher elevation hike through plant community with views of Hellhole Canyon
- Elephant Tree Nature Trail: Easy One mile trail (4WD is needed to reach the trailhead)
- Cactus Loop Nature Trail: One mile, a bit strenuous, on uneven surface.
Plan Your Day
- Split Mountain Via Fish Creek (4 WD)
- 17 Palms Oasis: (4WD)
- Blair Valley and Box Canyon (2WD)
- Borrego Palm Canyon Trail: 3 mile roundtrip hike through bighorn sheep area. Crowded in the Springtime.
- Wind Caves: (4WD Required)
- Alcoholic Pass: 2 mile roundtrip: Steep hike to app overlooking Coyote Canyon and Clark Valley
- Yaqui Well Nature Trail: 1.5 mile one way trail
- 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
Explore more with me, please follow, like, pin, share and retweet all you like! And then check out more adventures here:
Beautiful photos! I have to see Slot Canyon now!
You must go! It’s about 65-70 miles from us, so it was a great little road trip for a lovely afternoon outdoor getaway!
It doesn’t look like there were many people there, is this usually the case? I love all the hiking options, added to my wish list!
The day we visited the park was not very busy, but we arrived earlier around mid morning. By the time we finished the slot canyon hike, the parking lot was full. So at least we started out with only a few folks hiking. It is really a cool place to visit and explore!
Wow, I absolutely love your photos! I am such a fan of the desert parks in west-USA!!
Many thanks Esther! I really appreciate it! It is such a beautiful place, hopefully you will visit the western usa desert parks soon! 🙂 #FeetDoTravel #FollowMeFriday
Never heard of the Slot Trail or Anza-Borrego, looks fascinating! The canyons those huge desert vistas look epic, and that plant looks like something from another planet ! Thanks for sharing will pin for reference.
I know, I ‘ve been in California for 20+ yrs, and never visited Anza Borrego, and this weekend road trip was awesome! There were plenty of the Octoillo plants scattered throughout this desert. Some of them are so beautiful and healthy and then some appear to be almost dead. We really enjoyed out visit! Thanks for reading!
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park looks like the perfect spot to begin your new year of hiking! Love those incredibly blue skies!
This place is very cool, Cynthia! Several easy hiking trails, and this Slot trail was so fun to explore! It was a beautiful January day! Thanks for reading!
Is this is a hidden gem or a place well-known? I confess I haven’t heard of it before but it looks fantastic, as you have said, so much archaeological history. Love that there is a bakery here as well. Pinned! #feetdotravel
Well, Anza-Borrego probably isn’t one of the most highly visited places in Cali, but it is another beautiful place in the desert! Lots of hiking, off roading, camping, dirt bikes, four wheeling,..so many fun things to do! Oh, and there are several small desert towns you go through on the way there, which is the bakery we stopped in at- they have nice restrooms, yummy things to snack or have lunch, and souvenirs. And is only about 1.5 hour drive from San Diego area, so not to bad. Thanks for sharing and reading! #feetdotravel
Absolutely stunning photographs. The wide open sky and the slot shots are fabulous. I’ve pinned this for later.
Thank you Shona! This is a great place for beautiful pics because of the bright sun, and the incredible blue skies make it perfect for photography. Thank you for reading and sharing!
This is a great post to inspire people to visit Borrego! I used to live there part of the year and hiked the slot trail. There are so many great hiking trails. I did not know that Borrego means bighorned sheep!
Thank you Sharon! Yeah, we really enjoyed our visit! It was really cool to see the big horn sheep gathered on the hillside in their habitat. My in-laws really enjoyed the hiking with us and seeing the park. Thank you for reading and sharing!
Oh, and we just absolutely loved going through the slot trail!! Probably a quiet and peaceful area to live too!