Curves & Swerves -> Slot Canyons & Washes, Anza Borrego State Park, CA
As a photographer I’m always into the way lines and light flow through a picture, so one of my fav fun things to do is to explore slot canyons and washes. We’ve seen a fair few good ones in our time and last year we explored “The Slot“, a very picturesque and aptly named spot in the southern section of massive 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) Anza Borrego State Park. Although we’ve had a hard time getting our butts out of our fine boondocking spot this year, yesterday afternoon we did finally muster up the gumption to head a short ways east on S22 and explore the wonderfully quiet Palm Slot.
This fine cavern of curves lies hidden in the badlands on the eastern corner of Anza Borrego State Park. It snakes along both sides of the Calcite Mine trail, the site of a mine (not surprisingly) which was used to produce high quality calcite (again, rather expected) for bomb sights & anti-aircraft weaponry during WWII (now, there’s the interesting bit). The trip to the mine is a serious 4×4 jeeping trail which drops almost vertically off S22 and leads to some fabulous views further on, but for those of us without the appropriate wheels you can simply park at the top of the road**, hike down to the bottom and turn left towards the slot canyons. A small mile later and you’ll enter a rocky-walled world of your own.
We took the trip with doggie on a clear and warm winter afternoon. Like almost everything in this park, if you go a little off the regular beaten track you’ll find yourself wonderfully and completely alone. Palm Slot, for whatever reason, is one of the lesser-known attractions here so it makes for a most serene and quiet outing. For several hours we hiked, climbed and explored the curves of this wonderful natural creation with nary another soul or sound in sight. Plus, of course, took a few pics. A whole day of curves and swerves all to ourselves. Not too bad if I say so myself!
The other side of this photographic expedition took us back to our boondocking spot (where else) and on our bikes to Clark Dry Lake Wash (my own name), again just east of our site. Now washes are curious little desert phenomena which create a whole little eco-system of their own. They are basically the highway lanes of the little rain that falls every year in this arid environment. Water gets routed and flows along these well-defined paths creating a moist bed for plants and animals. You’ll find desert mistletoe, scrubs, willow trees, birds, and (by far the most interesting thing, according to Polly) bouncing, springing jackrabbits. In winter the washes firm up and become jeeping grounds and bike paths….as well as very cool photo settings.
We’re actually on our last legs here at Borrego Springs before getting called to the ocean and things thereof. I’ve got one more round-up post with a few last pics, a few sunsets (what else) and a few more chats with our boondocking neighbours before I take you to the beach. Stay tuned for the next episode….
**To get to Palm Slot travel east from Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs on Highway S-22 about 18.5 miles. Just past mile marker 38, on the south side of S22 you’ll see a dirt parking lot with a sign for Truckhaven Trail. Park here and cross the road to hike into the Calcite Mine trail opposite. Once you get to the bottom of the first steep drop, turn left and follow the sandy bed to the slot canyon.
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What wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing.
Bear Tracks Blog says
Absolutely fantastic! I just LOVE your informative blog posts. You make my travel planning soooo easy!
Thanks! So happy you guys are enjoying the blog!
Great self portrait! I am looking forward to lots of exploring when we return in January.
Jan is such a wonderful time to be there. We may even go back ourselves at that time (our Jan plans are still pretty jello). If we do we’ll definitely see you there.
John and Pam Wright says
This is the area we explored the other day when we met you. We started by driving up Fonts Point, then took a wash almost to the mine. We drove the jeep half way up to the mine. The first mile wasn’t too bad but then the road just fell apart. Luckily, there was a little parking spot where others had done the same thing. We walked the last mile. Did you see the huge formation near the top that looked the Titantic sinking? Very cool! We then drove back to the Palm Slot and hiked way back. So beautiful. This is why we are coming back for two weeks…that was only one day! Safe travels to Mission. Bay. Hope to see you there.
Yeah, I remember you guys mentioning you did the drive to Calcite Mine. We never actually made it up the road to the mine, but just spent our time exploring the slot canyons. More to go back and explore!!
jil mohr says
wonderful…have you been to antelope canyon in Utah…if not do not miss it…remember the ad with the little blue pill? that is where it was filmed..enjoy sD…hopefully we will be seeing you after that…
Yup, went to Antelope canyon our first year RVing. I loved the canyon, but it was totally mobbed with people. I think they were running 7-10 tourist groups through while we were there and kept pushing us to move on. So, unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. If we ever go back I’ll book the more expensive photography tour which I gather is slower and more controlled.
Here’s the ONE nice pic I managed to shoot at Antelope Canyon while we were there in 2010. Almost got my head bit off by the guide because I was holding up the groups with my tripod and camera…ooops:
[caption id="attachment_12249" align="alignnone" width="207"] Antelope Canyon, Utah[/caption]
The sinuous curves of rock are seductive in a slot. Stayed in that area many years ago and didn’t even know those were there. Ah, an excuse to return. Safe journey to CA.
So agree…I just LOVE those curves. There is so much to see and do around here, I don’t think we’ll ever get done. This is our 3rd year visiting Anza Borrego and still haven’t touched the surface of everything there is to see here.
The Lowe's RV Adventures says
We had been to Anza Borrego four times (not in an RV) and we never knew about the slot canyons and the washes. Our last visit was to spread Steve’s parents ashes where they usually boondocked on winters. I guess this calls for another visit armed with your information. Thanks again.
Wow…what a moving visit that last one must have been for you. I could see how Steve’s parents would want to stay in that place and enjoy it after their spirit moves on.
Rattlesnake Joe says
Romantic and enchanting dreamy area. I can almost hear the sounds of the burros loaded down with Gold heading south back towards Mexico as the Spanish tried to sneak past the Apache hidding just ahead in ambush…
So true. I love to think of all the stories that have passed through this place. We see but a glimpse of the many millions of years of tales…
Hi Nina and Paul, Amazing after all of the times we’ve been to the Anza Borrego area we never knew there was a slot canyon near there! Great post and beautiful photos! BTW Molly says “howdy” to Polly! 🙂 Happy Travels!
Yeah and can you believe there are TWO of them! We discovered the first last year and Palm Slot this year…mostly by accident. I love the fact that Anza Borrego has so many hidden surprises. It takes a while to find them, but it’s alot of fun to do.
I believe this is the slot that we hiked when in Anza Borrego. Glad you have enjoyed your boondocking in the desert.
Cool…it’s a great little slot canyon. Not too far from town either. Can’t hardly believe you guys managed to hike as well as drive the mega-day-trip you did that day. If I recall it was quite the major outing.
It was ridiculous and certainly a place to visit when one has lots of time.