Wind Cave - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (CA)


What? :

The Anza-Borrego Wind Caves Trail is in the eastern portion of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, south of the outpost of Ocotillo Wells.

The caves that are more like holes or alcoves curved out from the sandstone by the wind, looking like giant chunks of Swiss-cheese rock.

The 1.5 mile out and back hiking trail start at the main Fish Creek dry wash, this trailhead is located about 4 miles away from the end of the road in the dry wash, so you better have AWD/4WD car to get here.


I do not recommend coming all the way just to visit this location but this can be a fun stop on your day drive, combining short hike and a place to visit.



Where? :

The Wind Caves Trailhead is about 30 miles away from Borrego Springs.


From Borrego Springs drive south on Borrego Springs Rd toward Diamond Bar Rd

For about 11.5 mile, turn left onto CA-78 E. Drive for another 6.6 mile up to Ocotillo Wells and here turn right onto Split Mountain Rd.

Drive for 8.1 mile until you will reach the large Fish Creek dry wash.


From this point you will leave the road and get into the dry wash. You need a 4WD vehicle for this last 4-mile portion of the drive.


Google Map Link



When? :

The vast desert park is open year-round, but the summer month are extremely hot (~110-120f mid-day), I highly recommend visiting here during to colder month of the year.

November through February has highs in the 60-70s and lows in the 40s. April and May are already getting to 80s, and June starting to more than 100f.



Due note 1: There is a gas service, stores, and many other facilities in Borrego Springs.


Due note 2: no matter if this is a short or long walk, make sure to have with you water and sunscreen.


Due note 3: This is a prime offroad 4x4 destination.

All roadways in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park-dirt, sandy wash, or paved are considered a road. 

All vehicles must be highway legal per the California Vehicle Code and must remain on all designated roadways.

All Off-Road Vehicles are prohibited in the park. 


Due note 4: After rainstorms in the mountains to the west you can have situation of flash floods in main river washlands. Check the weather before driving into your offroad trip.


Due note 5: Few offroad and hiking tips:

·         Do not hike alone.

·         Tell someone about your trip plans.

·         There is no cell reception, I highly recommend having gps communication system.

·         Carry a map and use it, Download Offline Maps and GPS Prior to Arrival.

·         In your car carry extra water, shovel, tools, flares, and blankets.

·         Check the road condition board at the visitor center before you start out.

·         If you offroad make sure you have good spare tire and repair tools and that you know how to replace a flat tire.



Due note 6: there is a large Campground in Borrego Palm Canyon, not so far from the visitor center.


Due note 7: There is a small primitive campground, with restroom, first come first serve, 1 mile into Fish Creek dry wash on the left side above the river bed.


Due note 8: Un like many other states parks the entire backcountry area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is defined as a camping facility, free of charge.

You can camp overnight almost anywhere you want, as long as your car is not parked more than one length off the road, please follow BLM camping guidelines.


Due note 9: The small Borrego Springs town is located in the center of the Anza-Borrego Park and has few hotels.


Due note 10: Drones are prohibited in the airspace above the reserve.


Due note 11: Open fires, including campfires and barbecues are prohibited at Blair Valley Primitive Campground, Culp Valley Primitive Campground and any backcountry campsites and day-use parking areas.  Portable propane or gas stoves are permitted for cooking only within designated campsite and day-use areas.


Due note 12: Cell phone coverage is spotty or nonexistent when you are getting into the desert.


Due note 13: Dogs are welcome in the designated campgrounds, on designated roads where vehicles are allowed. They are not allowed in the backcountry, on trails, or in the wildflower fields.



My thoughts:

Short offroad drive out from the road and additional short walk to the small site.

The cave are not so much impressive, they are more like alcoves in the sand rock so I will not recommend driving all the way here just for visiting this location. If you are driving by and have AWD vehicle it can be short fun walk stop on your offroad trip in this remote sections of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.



The visit:


From Ocotillo Wells (highway 78) drive on Split Mountain Rd. for 8.1 mile until you will reach the large Fish Creek dry wash.

From this point you will leave the road and get into the dry wash.

Although this section of the offroad is not extreme drive but you need a 4WD vehicle for this last 4-mile portion of the drive.

The sandy wash is relatively flat and without any rocky or challenging to pass sections.


This is not a challenging drive and I saw people trying to do it with low clearance car. They progress until it was too challenging for them to pass and walk from there to the trail head.

If you are not using AWD/4WD make sure you are not getting stack in a sandy section.


The drive path itself can be changed after flooding runoff.


You will start your drive in a very wide river wash and gradually the road get into canyon section (Split Mountain Gorge) where the river opening narrows and steep tall stone walls rise from both sides of the road.


After about 4-mile drive from the paved road, in a large opening and turn of the dry wash to the left you will see the trailhead sign on the far-left side of the dry-wash.

You can park your car just near the trailhead.


From here this is slightly longer than one-mile out and back hike to the unique exposed sandstone formations with wind-eroded holes.

The trail is completely expose to the sun, make sure that you have enough water with you, hat and using sunscreen.


The hiking trail start at the main Fish Creek dry wash, you start with a climb up the hills leading to the ridgeline. You can’t miss the trail and after about half mile of climbing you will see the sandstone formations in front of you.

You can walk over the rock and see how the wind and blowing sand carve out small holes and alcoves in the rock.

From Wind Caves high viewing point, you can look out and see the vast Anza Borrego Desert to the west.


This is only a short visit and after you are done with your explorations you will walk back down to your car.

On the way back you can take the trail that is going more to the west and above the river wash view below you, after short walk this trail connect back to the same trail you climb up.


On my way back to road 78 I stopped at Iron Door Bar, nice small bar that was open mid-day with few guests inside.

A lot of 1-dollar bills on the walls as few pictures and 3 pool tables.







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