When you think slot canyons, you probably don’t think of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, but it’s a great place for slot canyons for families. The park has one slot canyon on the map called, “The Slot.” However, my families’ favorite slot canyon is in the Calcite Mine area.
If you read descriptions of the Calcite Mine hike, you’ll read about a couple of slot canyons in the area. However, the slot canyon we like exploring, is much closer to the main road. At the turnoff for the Calcite Mine (directions below), you can park at the top of the hill in a pull-off or drive down the steep, one-vehicle-wide road to the wash below. At the bottom, the directions for Calcite Mine say go up the next hill. But for our slot canyon, turn left at the wash and drive up the wash about a half mile until you come to a slot canyon with a sign that says, “foot travel only, no vehicles.”
While there’s no sign giving this canyon a name, and while it’s not on the park map, last time we visited we found more than two dozen people here with a geologist on a museum tour. This canyon is no secret, but it’s still a bit off-the-beaten path.
Park in a spot where you don’t block any other possible visitors, then hike into the canyon. Enjoy the rocks here, the colors, the tall walls. Soon after entering the canyon, you’ll pass under a rock bridge that spans the canyon.
Just an eighth of a mile from the entrance, the canyon comes to its first slot section. It never gets really skinny, but it’s cool to see how the canyon constricts. The canyon opens up slightly, then slots again.
As you walk here, look up, down and all around you. As you get further back, you’ll have to climb around, or under, one rock in the main pathway. You may also find a few spots where you’ll need to pull yourself up, or get a boost, to continue hiking up the canyon.
At about 0.7 miles from the entrance, we came to a large rockfall across the canyon floor. There were several spots to climb around the rock fall. It appeared the canyon continued past this point, but since we had small children and seniors with us, we decided this was a good spot for some exploring, then turned around.
Details: For us, this hike was about 1.4 miles roundtrip. Add another 0.6 miles or so, each way, if you have to hike down from the main road.
Learn more about Anza Borrego Desert State Park on the park’s website. At Anza-Borrego, don’t miss The Slot canyon and check out more hikes in the Palm Springs-Joshua Tree area here.
Directions: From the traffic circle in Borrego Springs, take Borrego-Salton Seaway (S22) 19 miles to mile marker 34. Park on the north side of the highway or take the one-way road down to the wash. At the bottom of the wash, turn left into the wash. It’s about a half mile from here to the mouth of the canyon. Drive as far as your comfortable driving, then park.