Final Days in Borrego Springs, CA

Borrego Springs, CA

During our last couple of weeks here in Borrego Springs, we explored the wilds of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with a combination of Jeep rides and hikes.

Palm Canyon

One afternoon we drove into the nearby state park campground with Dave and Sue to hike up Palm Canyon.  The trail begins at the west end of the Borrego-Palm Canyon campground and goes about a mile and a half up into the canyon.  It is the most popular trail in the park and leads to the third-largest palm oasis in California.  We have done this hike many times before but wanted to see if we could spot any bighorn sheep along the canyon walls (we saw them there on previous hikes).  Alas, the sheep were on vacation that day!

Young boys love to climb rocks

Scanning the canyon walls for sheep

Dave checks out the grove of palms

It is really interesting to climb about half way up the canyon and suddenly hear running water.  Thick vegetation on the trail indicate that water is nearby.

The stream suddenly appears, complete with a tiny waterfall.

Our only wildlife sighting

The view looking east down the canyon

While we didn’t spot any sheep, the hike up and back in the canyon is always fun.

Mine Wash and Village Site

A few days later we drove to the south to explore some canyons along Rte. 78.  The first spot, Mine Wash, lies east of County Road S-3 and west of Borrego Springs Road.  It is about a mile and a half west of Pinyon Wash and about two miles east of Stag Cove. The wash is marked by a small sign which you can easily miss unless you watch carefully.  We turned into the wash and drove south to an area identified on the park map as the village site.   Kumeyaay bands living in the nearby Laguna Mountains migrated to the desert areas in and next to Anza-Borrego Desert SP during the winter and stayed until spring.   The village site is one of their winter camps.  The area of the village has a number of Kumeyaay morteros.  Morteros are depressions in stone that developed after years of use by Kumeyaay women for grinding beans, nuts, or seeds.

You could continue south up the wash for a few more miles where there is an abandoned gold mine.  We decided to return to the highway and continue east for a visit to the Narrows Earth Trail.

The Narrows Earth Trail

This trail, located just a couple of miles east of Mine Wash, is a guided loop about a mile long.  A nature trail guide is available at the trailhead to explain various points along the loop.  The information pertains to the geology of Anza-Borrego.

A fault line with different types of rocks on either side

Young hiker checks out some eroded rocks

Halfway through the short hike the trail goes through a wash and heads back to the parking area.  We hiked up the wash for about a mile before coming to a tall pour-over that blocked our way.

End of the trail

The view back down the wash

Truckhaven Rocks

We left the Narrow Earth Trail and drove back through Borrego Springs to county road S22.  At mile marker 35.5 we pulled over and parked along the north side of the highway.    From there we could see the Truckhaven Rocks, blocks of reddish-brown sandstone made from sedimentary deposits that were tilted to a 45-degree angle by geological forces eons ago.  They rise up 100 feet or more from the alluvial plain and are named for the first road east out of the Borrego Valley — the old Truckhaven Trail.  The sandstone has been eroded by wind and rain to create a miniature mountain range, complete with canyons, peaks, and ridges.

The low Truckhaven Rocks to the north

To get to the rocks we hiked up a sandy wash for a bit over a mile.

As the banks of the wash grew up around us we found a spot where we could climb up to the sandstone rocks.

The arrow points out the nimble hiker as she begins to climb out of the wash

After climbing up to the top of one of the rocks we enjoyed great views all around us.

Looking to the north

Looking to the south

A look back while returning back down the wash

Carrizo Badlands and the Mud Caves

For our last adventure we joined Dave and Sue in their Jeep to explore the Carrizo Badlands south of Borrego Springs.  To get there we drove 20 miles to Scissors Crossing, where county road S2 intersects with CA-78.  From there we drove south on S2 for 34 miles before turning east into Canyon Sin Nombre Wash.

An arrow marks the entrance to the Canyon sin Nombre

The canyon entrance

Rocks along the canyon wall

There are a number of slot canyons that go into the rocks along the wash.  We stopped to explore one of them.

End of the line

Back down the slot

After a stop for lunch, John and Dave hiked far up another slot.  Since they didn’t have a camera, the only photo we have is of them returning.

Back out at last

Beauty along the wash

A little guidance never hurts

After a long drive up Arroyo Seco del Diablo we made a turn to the south into an area known as the mud caves.  The area is filled with small caves and slot canyons.  The park discourages entering the caves as they are very unstable.  We obeyed their wishes, but did stop to explore one of the slots.  It contained two natural bridges and a number of interesting rock formations.

One of the natural bridges

Dave and Sue explore the wash

Small but scenic slot

Interesting pipe-like rock formation

Second natural bridge

As we drove back to the highway along the Vallecito Creek trail we passed a strange scene, a pair of crutches sitting below a street sign.  A street sign?  There has to be a story here, and there is.  The old emigrant trail that passed through this wash was marked with metal signs about a mile apart in the late 1800s.  Directions painted on the signs gave distances to settlements and water holes. Long ago, someone painted the words “Hollywood and Vine” on the metal plate of one of the sign and the name (but not the original sign) stuck.

After a wonderful month of perfect weather, interesting exploration trips through the desert, and some great golf, it is time to move on.  After a two day drive we will soon begin a month long stay in one of our favorite cities, Tucson, AZ.

More on that later . . .

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19 Responses to Final Days in Borrego Springs, CA

  1. exploRVistas says:

    That pipe formation is really cool! I wonder what caused it?

  2. Darn those vacationing sheep! That rock “pipe” formation is strange!

  3. Steve & Dianne Colibaba says:

    Those natural bridges and the pipe formation are cool! Great area for hiking…if we only had a jeep.

  4. Jim and Barb says:

    The palm oasis in the middle of no where is amazing, as is that pipe formation! You guys sure packed a lot into your week!

  5. Laurel says:

    Another very fun visit to Borrego Springs for you guys! We’ve always enjoyed our adventures there, with such great hiking and beautiful vistas. Your landscape photos are beautiful! We’ve never been to the mud caves. I’m glad you didn’t venture too far into them since they do seem like they would be unstable. Even if you didn’t see sheep on this trip you had other excellent trail companions. :-))

  6. I’m thinking the Subaru might not make it through the Arroyo Seco del Diablo, but it looks like a fun drive with some neat places to explore.
    Strange place to find a pair of crutches!

  7. Susan Bank says:

    You’ve really “done” the Borrego Springs area! So much to see and do here, we’ll be sad to leave tomorrow but look forward to more adventures in the future. I wish I had followed you up into that one little canyon to see that interesting “pipe” formation. Thanks again for a wonderful month!

  8. Jeff says:

    That is a most interesting ‘pipe’ formation, a nice reward from the slot canyons. I suspect the arches were part of a mud cave a few years ago, they may collapse when it rains.

  9. We were there last week and hiked our first slot canyon. It was amazing! Can’t wait to go back and do some more hiking. Of course we will be looking at your blog for ideas. Thanks

  10. Nancy says:

    The grove of palm trees were very cool! Those trails are tight! Arizona is welcoming you with open arms!

    The Tucson Rock and Gem Show will be going on in the city!

    Safe travels!

  11. Ahhhh, another lovely stay in Borrego! Thanks for taking me along vicariously! Looking forward to heading into the desert in a week or so…

  12. Gay says:

    Nice adventures and another wonderful month in the memory bank. I love the slot canyons !

  13. LuAnn says:

    Anza Borrego never fails to offer interesting hikes and formations. It was great seeing you two again.

  14. Great natural bridges but walking in the sand can be tough. Love yhe palms.

  15. geogypsy2u says:

    Love that Palm Canyon hike but see I have way more to explore around AB. The slots are interesting but so different than Utah’s red rock. Never seen anything like that pipe formation.

  16. Sherry says:

    Sorry to hear the sheep were on vacation but what a wonderful hike. Those palms are HUGE. Love the frog and his little toes. The Morteros are so interesting. They make me imagine the lives of the Native Peoples and wonder were they more difficult or simpler and easier than today’s chaos. Great pictures of them. I appreciate the stepped back picture to see their surroundings and the close up for the detail. Also really appreciate your details on getting to these wonderful places for use if ever I can get west.
    Wondering if hiking up those sandy washes is as difficult as hiking on sandy trails in the east. I’d rather climb rocks myself. I was also wondering if I’d drive over 50 miles to do a hike and then I saw your pictures of the slots and wonderful formations. Sorry to see you leave this area.

  17. Jodee Gravel says:

    You guys really explored a lot of the area – so fun!!! I love that pic of Pam in the tall, tall grass. The pipe formation is wonderful and so unique. When I was at Hollywood and Vine it looked quite different :-))))

  18. pmbweaver says:

    Oh how we love that area too. There is just so much to see and do, and the hiking is fabulous.
    What fun to spend so much time with Dave and Sue. Y’all sure did take advantage of the super weather and scenery.
    That young hiker keeps looking younger each time she appears in a photo. Ask her if she will share her secret…please.
    Isn’t hiking in the sand the worst. Yuck…what a workout for the legs.
    We love slot hiking. Looks like some tight squeezes for sure. I love the pipe-like rock formation. They are so cool.

  19. You did justice showing us what we missed during our two week stay. Hmm.. we should go back and stay for a month and follow your trails. Exploring, hiking, jeeping and golfing are always best done with great friends!

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