For the latest installment of Off The Beaten Path we head to a familiar place, one that many Southern California off-roaders have been too – Ocotillo Wells. To the south of highway 78 is Anza Borrego State Park and within its 600,000 plus acre area, there are many hidden gems that are right off the main grid.
This gem is one that we have past countless times and have heard many people stop and check out – Wind Caves. The trail is one where you have to get out of your vehicle and take a quick one-mile hike up into the hills.
To get to the trailhead we had to carve our way through Fish Creek Wash. Along the wash, we passed by many geological hillsides. Driver beware, a truck or SUV can easily head down the wash while a car will run into unpassable areas.
We found that the walking actually helped us loosen up after the drive out to the state park and driving in the dirt. The road to the trailhead is for street legal vehicles only, but after the recent onslaught of California rain, we found the road very torn up. We do have to say your mom’s Prius is not getting through without a couple scrapes.
From highway 78, we headed down Split Mountain Road until we turned right into the dirt onto Fish Creek Wash. The next four miles we drove through the wash and between the mountains. This is the same way that you would head if you were to go to Sandstone Canyon.
It is all uphill from the trailhead. The hill may seem daunting, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought.
Once at the trailhead, we parked our truck and headed up the steep hill to check out the caves. The sandstone wind caves that are at the end of the short trail are something that you do not see all over the place. These caves and arches are created from erosion caused by the wind.
There are plenty of hills to climb along the trail, but nothing too steep.
On our walk, we were able to see the vast size of the area once we reached the top of the hill. The hill overlooks Fish Creek Wash, the hills, and canyons of Ocotillo Wells. In addition to the views, we spotted some of the smaller wildlife we otherwise would have flown by in our truck.
As much as we wanted to look up and see the views, looking down we discovered a whole different type of view.
As much as we all love to go fast in the dirt, there are times when we all need to slow down and explore everything around us. Whether it is your first time in the desert or your hundredth taking it slow will show you a whole new side.
These are just some of the wind caves that can be seen on the trail.
Overall, we feel that this stop on our time in the desert was well worth it. It is nothing too extreme you can’t take the kids out with you. They will love climbing through and exploring the caves just as much as you will.
What is your favorite part of Ocotillo Wells? Any place that you think we should check out next? Tell us in the comments below!
One of the wind caves in the foreground and the vast desert landscape in the back.