April 29, 2018
Duration: 2 days
Starting point: Irvine, CA
Budget for 2 people: $130 ($30 gas, $70 food, $30 camp)
- Day 1: drive from Irvine, CA to Anza Borrego, CA (140 mi, 3 h), hike Slot Canyon trail, visit Galleta Meadows statues, overnight camping
- Day 2: relax in the campground, drive back home
Why go all the way to Antelope Canyon and pay a high price if there is something similar nearby absolutely free :) Slot canyon trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is only 3 h drive from Orange County, there is no entrance fee, there are no people, and your visit time is not limited!
Slot Canyon parking spot is marked on Google maps, but that area has no network coverage (at least for T-mobile users as us) so make sure you download offline maps and mark all your points of interest in advance. The last part of the road is a 2-mile long sandy road. You don't need a 4WD car but if you don't feel comfortable driving on that road you can park in the middle of it and walk the remaining part.
There is an ample parking area at the end of the road and pointers to the trail (on the right from the lot). The surrounding off-road territory is huge and you'll see many cars carrying dirt bikes and special cars to drive around. During our hike we saw up to 10 groups of people and we had plenty of time to take as many pictures as we wanted.
View from the parking lot, this is where you'll be going:
The trail is approximately 1 mile long (one way) and it gets really narrow at some point of time where you'll need to go sideways. It is also very windy that makes the heat more bearable.
The most interesting part of the trail is up to the stone bridge. After this point we walked a little longer and turned around.
On the way back:
Another mind-blowing attraction of Anza-Borrego is Galleta Meadows Sculptures. There are more than 100 of them built by an artist Ricardo Breceda who was discovered by a philanthropist named Dennis Avery who paid him to construct those sculptures on his property. The sculptures are widely spread out and you'll need to drive between them, however, the most popular serpent and scorpion are marked on Google maps and they are located pretty close to each other. If you want to see all of them you can get a map in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center.
Also, watch out for those sandy winds, at some points of time we could barely see where we're going and had to make sure our eyes are covered.
There are 2 main campgrounds in the area - Borrego Palm Canyon and Tamarisk Grove. We chose the latter one as it provided more shadows. Our spot #7 was next to the quiet road, however, people from the other side of the campground complained about noises from the highway. That night we didn't care about car noises as it was so windy that all I could think of is whether our tent will handle the weather or whether that nearby tree will fall on us at night. If you are reading this post it means that we survived! No damages happened that night but be aware of winds!
As usual, let us know if you have any questions about Anza-Borrego :)