The slot canyon in Anza Borrego is one of those hikes that you never realized you had right in California. The slot is a beautiful natural formation nestled in the heart of Anza Borrego State Park, about an hour and a half east of San Diego. The park has no fees to enter (I have been told this is now $10 for the Slot hike) and hundreds of miles to explore and off-road through. It even has unique areas such as the palm tree oasis of Hellhole Canyon, abandoned mines, and of course, the slot canyon itself. Here is all the information if you want to check it out.
- Somewhat hard to find
- 1-mile hike
- 50 feet of elevation
- Dirt road to access it
- I am told that the parking is now $10
Make no mistake, you will have to work to find this place. While it is technically on the map, it is still challenging to find, as it is located about two miles down a dirt road that is very easy to miss. My suggestion would be to check in with the visitor’s center before trying to head out to the canyon. The map below will get you close, but it is really easy to miss if you do not know where the road will be. Here is a map that the visitors center provides.
The road to the slot was dirt and a little rough, but we were able to go 3 /4ths of the way with a Ford Focus, so most cars should be able to get at least as close as we did. From where we parked, it was about 200 yards to the start of the hike. There are no signs to direct you where to go, just know when you get to the area in the below picture you want to head down into the canyon for the start of the slot.
Right where the above car is, is where you can make your way down. Also, make sure that you mark your entrance as it can be hard to tell exactly where you entered when you come back out. We made a small pile of rocks that let us know this was our exit.
After walking about 100 yards, you will see the entrance to the start of the slot canyon. As you proceed, the canyon starts to get taller and taller around you, while the path gets more and more narrow. You can see the entrance below.
The next mile or so is a fantastic experience. You simply weave your way through the canyon as it gets to about 100 feet on either side of you. The canyon gets so narrow in some places that you actually have to go sideways. I was carrying a hydration pack, which I took off and left halfway through the hike to pick back up on the way out, as it was scraping and making walking through the narrow canyon difficult.
About three-fourths of the way, you will reach the natural rock bridge. It is a great place to stop and take in the size of the canyon you are in.
After you pass the bridge, the slot canyon opens and dumps you out on a dirt road. From here, you can walk all the way out and loop back around, or you can simply head back into the canyon. We elected to do the latter and headed back in only to see a nice tarantula greeting us at the entrance.
Check out my video to get a glimpse as to what walking through the canyon is like and make sure you put this on your list of places to check out. It is a unique experience that is easy enough for the whole family or can be combined with other hikes in the park if you are going with an active group of hikers.
For more great things to do in Anza Borrego check out this great site.