Off-Road through Split Mountain in Anza Borrego

Fish Creek

Adventure through sweeping desert canyons that date back 20 million years.

For all you desert lovers- this is a must. Or for all you SD residents that want to try something new and take a break from the populated trails within the county- spend a day in Anza Borrego and include this on your list.

This state park is just a quick jaunt outside of the town of Julian. This means that it is still within a day’s drive and you can also include a stop at Julian as well.

Split Mountain itself is located right outside of Ocotillo Wells and is the epitome of a geologist’s wonder. This canyon is basically a timeline that you can drive right in the middle of. This whole area was once an inland sea, so be on the lookout for a series of wind tunnels, synclines/anticlines and a gorgeous progressing color of sand and rock as you make your way through the towering canyon.

Drive into the city of Ocotillo Wells and turn right at Split Mountain road. From there, take the road down until it curves and starts to approach the mountain range. At this point you will see a dirt road for Fish Creek- this wash will take you right into the mountain. We spent some time stopping within the canyon and exploring some of the features. One you pass the canyon, there is a mile hike to explore some of the wind caves if you would like to sightsee further.

Note- even though you are driving through the wash, there are some points that are very rocky so I would only recommend vehicles with some type of off-road clearance attempt the drive.

If you want to continue your adventure further, Slot Canyon is located right off the road as you make your way back on Highway 78 west. It is a must if you are in this desert. This quick hike will only expand your appreciation of this unique geological area.

One final note: if you decide to walk around and explore, make sure you have your bearings- it is very easy to get disoriented when it comes to direction in this desert.

Pack List

  • Off-road/ 4WD vehicle
  • Water! - this desert reaches the three digits easily, stay hydrated
  • Snack
  • Sunscreen
  • Maybe stop by Julian Hard Cider on the way in to bring a refreshing adult beverage for a break!
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RT Distance 11 Miles
Elevation Gain 0 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildlife

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Worth The Trip

Note when you pass through the canyon the trail to the wind caves are immediately to your left. Pretty obvious but we managed to drive right by it.


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