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Borrego Palm Canyon – Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

Palm oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.

Palm oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.

The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is probably the most popular hiking trail in California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park. And with good reason. The approximately three-mile round-trip journey is close to the park’s visitor center, very scenic and fairly easy.

Starting from the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, the trail enters the canyon with ample opportunities to see the park’s famed (and rare) bighorn sheep climbing the ridges to the north. In fact, I saw a female near the top on this hike (hint: stay quiet to hear their footsteps on rocks as they are tough to see).

The canyon walls eventually close a bit tighter on the trail as you get closer to the oasis at the end. You’ll see increased vegetation and a stream flowing from the oasis. You’ll be able to see the oasis about a half mile before you reach it, and the grove of California date palms is a relaxing place to rest before heading back.

There is an alternate route back which is well-marked (you’ll likely see it on your way to the oasis). I recommend taking it back as it is less traveled and is at a higher elevation, giving you a wider perspective of the canyon. It ends at the opposite end of the campground’s parking lot, just a couple hundred feet from where you started.

  • Palm oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Waterfall near the oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Stream on Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Ocotillo on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Palm at the oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Palms at the oasis on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Cliffs along the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.
  • Looking out at the mouth of the canyon on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail.

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Yaqui Well Trail – Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

Cholla cacti on the Yaqui Well Trail.

Cholla cacti on the Yaqui Well Trail.

The Yaqui Well Trail is a leisurely stroll through cholla, ocotillo and agave on your way to the more dense vegetation around the well itself, which was a vital source of water to the Kumeyaay tribe that once inhabited this portion of what is now California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

The well-marked trail starts across the street from the Tamarisk Grove campground and is an easy walk that reaches the well after about a mile. Brochures at the trail head describe various features of interest along the trail. The well itself is marked only by a sign among the greenery saying it’s closed for restoration.

  • Trailhead marker for Yaqui Well Trail.
  • Agave plant on the Yaqui Well Trail.
  • Cholla cacti on the Yaqui Well Trail.
  • Cactus on the Yaqui Well Trail.
  • Bird nest on the Yaqui Well Trail.

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Slot Canyon – Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

The Slot Canyon area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park gives you a look into yet another dimension of the diverse park.

There are a couple different ways to get down into the slot canyon from the parking lot. I walked around the ridge to the right side of the lot and climbed down on the far side. It’s a bit easier than sliding straight down from the parking lot, although that is the quickest option.

However, you make your way down, you then wind your way through the slot, with its steep walls and slim passages. A rock that has wedged itself 50 feet up between the canyon walls is the most notable feature. Once you see this, you can turn back the way you came or (as I did), keep going until you see a branch off to the right. You can follow this for awhile until it peters out and then do some rock scrambling over unmarked terrain until you loop back to where you started. Even this more adventurous route is less than 2 miles total, but it gives you some new scenery and a chance to look down at the canyon you just passed through.

  • Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
  • Inside the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
  • Rock balancing over the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
  • Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
  • Sign post on dirt road pointing to the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

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