February 2020 Activity: Palm Wash Canyons (Anza Borrego)

Join our president Alexander S. Kunz for an exploration of the (slot) canyons in the Palm Wash area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, near the old Calcite Mine. This is a full-day activity (if you want) – depending on our timing we can head from the Palm Wash area to Fonts Point or Clark Dry Lake for sunset, and then have dinner in the town of Borrego Springs together. Continue reading if you’re interested!

Date & Times

  • Date: Saturday, February 22nd, 2020
  • Meeting Point & Hike Start: Calcite Road turnoff along Borrego-Salton-Seaway (no 4WD or high clearance required, parking is just off the pavement), 9:30 AM
  • Carpool Meeting Point: Iron Mtn Trailhead, 14995 Highway 76, Poway, CA; 7:45 AM (➡➡carpool sign-up⬅⬅)
  • We will drive via Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Ranchita, Borrego Springs.

Hike Details

  • Calcite Road to first slot canyon ~1.5 miles one way uphill on dirt road; the total distance of our hike is ~5 miles
  • Sturdy shoes required (trekking poles are a hindrance in the narrow canyons).
  • Stuck boulders & dry falls in the narrow canyons require to use your hands for some simple scrambling. We’ll help each other past these obstacles of course, but physical fitness & stamina will be necessary! 🙂
  • Bring enough water (suggestion is at least 2 quarts) and sandwiches/snacks for your lunch (bring additional water & keep it in the car)
  • The hike in is out in the open, bring hat, sunscreen, etc. as you usually would
  • It can be quite a bit cooler in the canyons, don’t dress too lightly!
  • Weather forecast for the area.

Suggested Camera Gear

  • The narrow canyons have only partial light – the time of day doesn’t matter that much for great pictures
  • It’s pretty dark in the canyons & for best depth of field you’ll have to stop down a lot too – a tripod is strongly recommended
  • The slot canyons are fairly narrow, a wide angle lens is recommended (full-frame: ~16-35mm, crop 12-24mm, m4/3 8-16mm)
  • Alex will be available to answer your questions, of course.


Depending on our timing, we can head out to Fonts Point (high clearance vehicle recommended; great views of the Borrego Badlands) or Clark Dry Lake (dry lake bed with cool cracked mud patterns) after our canyon explorations, and have dinner together at one of the eateries in the town of Borrego Springs.

This is not a Sierra Club outing; no outings leader will be present. If you need to leave early or have enough at some point, you may leave as you please. It will be easy to find back to your parked car at all times.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below, or ask in our member forum.

Curved walls in one of the Palm Wash slot canyons near the old Calcite Mine in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California.
Curved walls in one of the Palm Wash slot canyons near the old Calcite Mine in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California.



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.