This was our first visit to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California and one of the largest in the country. We started off our stay in the area with this hike in a slot canyon known simply as "The Slot".
We were doing some desert "boondocking" in our RV, and were looking forward to exploring the Borrego Springs area. On our first full morning, we got dressed and headed out to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitors center. The visitors center is built into the rocks and is invisible from the parking lot. A short walk takes you to the entrance which is tucked into the landscape.
We picked up park maps and watched the very nice 15-minute video about the park in the theater. Anza-Borrego is California's largest state park at over 600,000 acres. It's one of the largest state parks in the U.S.
The park surrounds the city of Borrego Springs as shown on the map below.
The little red marker shows the park visitors center, and the big red arrow points to the approximate area we are parked.
Borrego is a Spanish word meaning "sheep" or "lamb", and the park is home to the endangered Desert Bighorn Sheep. The video said two thirds of the remaining population of the Desert Bighorn live in the park. We'll have to keep an eye out for them.
We filled up the reservoirs in our CamelBaks and set off for our first hike - The Slot. You know we like slot canyons.
Access to The Slot is off Hwy 78 about a mile and a half east of Borrego Springs Road (aka Borrego Valley Road). Turning left onto Butte Pass Road (dirt road) it's about a mile to a "Y". Stay left for another eight tenths of a mile and there is a large parking area as the road turns sharply left. The parking area is right on the edge of the canyon.
The road is a little rough, but not too bad. We've been on much worse, yet it was still a road I wouldn't want to drive on in the dually pick-up.
When you get out of your vehicle at the parking area, the view should look like this.
You can scramble or slide down into the canyon from the parking area, but we looked for a little easier access. We first walked down canyon and took a gently sloping wash. Unfortunately, it dead-ended high above the slot ...
and we had to return. So we walked to the opposite end of the parking area and took the trail with a "No dogs" sign.
That led us to another wash that made it easier to get into the canyon. Linda marked where we entered with a small rockpile or "cairn".
We walked in the canyon below the parking area ....
and soon we were in The Slot and its narrow passageways.
It was a short, fun little walk ....
and our backpacks weren't really necessary. In fact, they were somewhat of a hindrance squeezing through in some places.
But it was really cool. One young mother we passed said it was "super nifty".
Here are a few more shots.
I'd be surprised if the narrowest section of The Slot was more than a quarter-mile long. Near the end, it opened up ....
and then narrowed down before becoming permanently wider.
Linda had read that you could drive a 4WD vehicle into the canyon from below (not sure where the access is) and drive up canyon to The Slot. Well, the tire tracks in the sand proved it.
We stopped there and had lunch in the warmth of the sun - temps were in the low 60s. Carrying lunch was the best reason to have the backpacks.
After lunch, we made the return trip through the canyon and back below the parking area to our entry point. I took another shot of the canyon from above ....
That was a great little hike and a somewhat popular one. There are other less accessible slots in the park as well, and we hope to check those out, too.
Back in the Jeep, there was still plenty of daylight left, so we looked for a nearby, short hike. We found one about four or five miles west on Hwy 78.
The Narrows Earth Trail has a small parking area right next to the road.
It's a very short interpretive trail that provides an overview of the geology of the park. There are seven signs marking points of interest that correspond to the brochure you can pick up at signpost #1.
It was an interesting little walk that took less than 30 minutes and provided a nice view.
We can only imagine the beauty of the park when the cacti, ocotillo, and wildflowers start blooming in late February/early March.
On the trail, there is a section of rocks with holes in them. When the breeze picked up just enough to be called a "wind", an eerie "rock flute" sound could be heard.
Well, that was enough for our first day in the park. We headed back to the rig where we awaited guests that said they would try to stop by.