We had a short trip to San Diego planned and we knew that would get us pretty close to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California. It’s not easy to get to, nor is it on any route that most would take on a road trip. Full time RVers flock to the area in the winter for the Southern California weather. You can visit the state park all year round, but in the summer it gets really hot. I hear people all the time say they love the heat, but until you are in 110 degree dry heat, it doesn’t really set in for how your body will respond to that. It can be this hot even at the end of summer going into the beginning of fall. However, if you do decide to be a little adventurous, you will not be disappointed.
If you have limited time the following two spots are our favorite in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California.
Our Favorite Hiking spots in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
While most of our hikes are dog friendly, these two hikes are not most of the year. There is no water anywhere and it is HOT. If you must, carry your dog or he or she must have booties on. The sand is extremely hot at times and you wouldn’t walk on it with socks or bare feet.
Wind Caves Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The Wind Caves of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are exactly what they are named. Beautiful caves that were sculpted by wind. They are worth the trip to get to as it’s not easy. You have to be determined and confident in your skills and a little adventurous. Aside from being 105 miles away from San Diego, in the middle of some of the most remote desert and not on an established road, no cell service, it’s pretty easy to get to.
Your first adventure is at the turn for Fish Creek Wash. This isn’t a road but a dried riverbed.
This drive through the riverbed is 4 miles. I would highly suggest a high clearance or 4×4 vehicle. You are driving over rocks, through sand and in some questionable spots. We drove a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and had no problems. While the driver will be focusing on making sure not to hit a rock or get stuck in sand, the passengers should take this opportunity to take in the different rock formations.
Find a shady spot to park and get ready to hike. The actual trailhead is slightly difficult to find so have it in your phone or have google maps open and pull up the wind caves and walk that way. Yes, that can be nerve racking to some, especially if it is hot out.
The hike should take you less than a mile, even though that distance is straight up and then straight down it is not hard. The Wind Caves are pretty cool!
The views from the Wine Caves to the Carizzo Badlands were simply amazing.
This area is extremely remote and so there are zero services. Please practice Leave No Trace. Also, please do not carve anything into the sand caves. No one cares what your name is and they certainly will not know its you. Leave it be.
The most important thing to have with you on this hike is water and/or gatorade (electrolyte), enough gas in the tank and sun screen. Please note that there are no OHVs allowed in this area.
Slot Canyon of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Called The Slot, we were excited to find slot canyons in California! Again, remember you are in the desert and if it’s hot, please make sure to bring plenty of water. Know your limits in heat and don’t be intimidated by signs like this. Just be smart.
While you can do this hike as a loop in 2.3 miles, we did it as a short out and back which ended up being around a mile. Once you park, the quickest way to the slot canyon is to the left of the above sign and trailhead and then down. It’s not long and you can’t get lost, just mark where you entered the trail.
At first it doesn’t seem like much and then the walls start to close in and you will find yourself doing some funny body contortions to get through.
As the walls get higher, the light hits the siltstone and you will see more shades of yellow than you ever have in one spot. The shade is a welcome reprieve from the intense sun and so take some time to enjoy all the twists and turns.
I hope you enjoy these two spots as much as we did. Respect them like they are endangered. We continue to share places like this for everyone to experience and for that to happen we must all do our part.
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