Wind Caves Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

A short hike to a fascinating destination overlooking the Carrizo Badlands begins on the far east side of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This 1.25-mile round trip hike climbs 250 feet to a sandstone formation with wind-eroded pockets that insist on being explored.

The hike begins with a quick ascent up the east side of Split Mountain Wash. Climb a series of rocky steps. With each gain, the view to the west and south expands over the sprawling badlands. This would be a scenic trail even if exciting wind caves weren’t waiting half a mile up the ridge.

A few single tracks split off up the undulating mountainside. They all end up at the same place, but try to stick to the most worn trail. After one last rise, the wind caves come into view. The pocketed sandstone is full of interesting alcoves, caves and tunnels. Crawl through, climb over, and investigate.

A spur trail heads northeast farther up Fish Creek Mountain, and another heads south a short distance to a small knoll with sweeping views over the wash and badlands. Below the wind caves to the west, a less-used single track descends to a small collection of sandstone caves. This track reunites with the main trail not far above the wash. Descend via this route to add a nice loop to the hike.

Wind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Wind Caves on the slopes of Fish Creek Mountain
Wind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Overlooking the Carrizo Badlands
Wind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Exploring the wind caves

The wind caves are a wonderful destination for a short hike, and getting to Wind Caves Trail is an adventure of its own. Follow the directions below, and enjoy the impressive drive. Dogs are not permitted. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy.

To get to the trailhead: From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive 11.5 miles southwest on Borrego Springs Road. Turn left on Route 78 East and drive 6.6 miles to the desert hamlet of Ocotillo Wells in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Turn south on Split Mountain Road.

About 8 miles from Route 78, and 2 1/4 miles past the Elephant Tree Trail Area, the pavement comes to and end. Turn right on a dirt road up the center of a sandy wash. Road conditions may vary, but the route is typically not entirely suitable for low clearance vehicles. After 1.4 miles, cross the turnoff for Fish Creek Campground, and continue up the road.

The canyon narrows and steep stone walls rise up around the road, adding gravity to the trip up the split between Fish Creek Mountain and Vallecito Mountain. Drive another 2.75 to the trailhead, located on the left, on the inside of a curve in the road just after it exits the mountains. A sign for Wind Caves Trail is positioned at the trailhead.

Trailhead address: Fish Creek Wash, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Trailhead coordinates: 32.9933, -116.1184 (32° 59′ 35.9″N 116° 07′ 06.2″W)

Trail Map
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Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.

Photos

Split Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertSplit Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertSplit Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertSplit Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertSplit Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertSplit Mountain Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego DesertWind Caves Trail Anza-Borrego Desert

These photos were taken in March of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Elephant Tree Trails Elephant Trees Trail
This easy one-mile loop offers a lesson in desert botany including the rare elephant tree.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail The Slot
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Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Narrows Earth Trail
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Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Calcite Mine Trail
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Anza-Borrego Desert Maidenhair Falls Trail Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls
This 5.5-mile hike visits a 20-foot waterfall in a canyon near Borrego Springs, making it the perfect place to cool off on a hot day in the California Desert.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Pictograph Trail
This 1.8-mile hike visits rock paintings drawn by Kumeyaay Indians who lived in the Anza-Borrego Desert thousands of years ago.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Morteros Trail
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This 2.5-mile hike just off the 101 Freeway visits an interesting formation of wind-carved caves with great ocean views.
Camping
California Desert Camping Anza-Borrego Desert Campgrounds
Four developed campgrounds, eight primitive campgrounds, and extensive roadside camping accommodate your visit to California's largest state park.
Wildflowers
Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers
The desert bloom brings bursts of color to barrel cactus, beavertail cactus, ocotillo, and more.
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Tagged with · Badlands · Borrego Springs · California State Parks · Caves · Free Trails · Wind Caves
Distance: 1.25 miles · Elevation change: 250 feet

12 Comments on Wind Caves Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  1. JB says:

    4×4 is necessary on the dirt road. I was worried my 2wd pickup would get stuck.

  2. jenny webber says:

    Can I bring my dog here? and do I need a pass? Does it cost anything to enter?

  3. Mike says:

    It looks like you either have a VW Rabbit, or took a picture of someone out there in one.
    Is a car like that even able to make it to the wind caves?

    • hikespeak says:

      The condition of the road in the canyon can change. I’ve driven up to Fish Creek Campground a couple times in a VW hatchback. Once with no clearance issues and the other time scraping through some sand. I was able to drive most of the way up the canyon to Wind Caves Trail until bigger rocks in the road prevented me from driving all the way there. High clearance vehicles would definitely be recommended.

  4. […] is a popular four-wheel drive destination, with lots of sights to see including the nearby Wind Caves, which are sandstone rocks that have been smoothed and eroded by wind and rain. Small tunnels and […]

  5. […] I love Borrego Springs. It’s super small, isolated and I love to grab a beer and some food at Carlees Bar. The town has so many sculptures from Ricado Breccada and the views are breathtaking. The more you drive, the more there is to see. In the center of the town is Christmas Circle. A rotary that has outlets allowing you to literally choose your own adventure. Follow the directions at the end of this post, don’t second guess yourself and you’ll get there perfectly. Also, it’s worth noting that I drive a Scion XB which is extremely low to the ground and while driving super slow and cautious, I made it through (and back) to the Wind Caves. Perfect direction are below from hikespeak.com. […]

  6. […] a year and a half ago, we explored the Wind Caves.  Being in a place like this, where there are large amounts of rock carved by little more than the […]

  7. Corry says:

    I loved your photos of Wind Caves. We are planning a March 2016 trip. Any more recent reports of the drive out to that trailhead? Thanks.

  8. […] The Slot, Split Mountain, Wind Caves, Elephants Knees, Cactus Loop, Borrego Springs Metal Sculptures, Salton Sea […]

  9. Jessica says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the post! Took the family out to the caves yesterday and we had such a good time. We went out in a Honda Pilot, but only had to use our four wheel drive twice, closer to the trail head. So much to see on the way in!

  10. Deb Cal says:

    I heard there is something going on at the wind caves over Halloween is that true

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