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XJ in Anza Burrego Area


NAXJA Forum User
We are planning a trip in about 4 to 6 weeks time, travelling to Anza Burrego general area in south east California. We got at least a full long days drive to get there, we have probably seven or eight days total time.

Are there any recommendations you all can give on 4x4 trails, good rock crawls, off road primitive camping areas, cool canyons, etc...?

We have at least two XJs going, the least capable of which is 31 inch tires, 4 inch lift, Limited slip rear, ARB locker front, winch, rockrails, extra gas cans, tools, spare parts. We are fairly experienced in days or week long off road camping trips, so looking for a bit of rugged trails, crawling opportunities, with isolated camping spots. Maybe also suggestions for a day hike up a mountain, or to an old mine, or ghost town to explore. We will be looking for probably 200 miles of jeep trails, give or take in the week.

We recently did a 200+ mile offroad Death Valley adventure, seven nights, camped different spot on six of the nights. I guess you call this overlanding. Darwin area, Mengle Pass, etc...

Looking for a new area to explore.

Anyway, We will greatly appreciate suggestions for the Anza Burrego area!!

Thank You In Advance!
Back it the late '70's i worked a couple years for a defense contractor in the San Diego area.
So Anza Borrego was a definite wheeling area.
Some great watering holes there, seem to recall one was called the iron door bar in i could be wrong Borrego Springs. Was decades ago.
Still have a T-shirt i bought from that place.

One point of interest in the area is that according to legend Gen. Patton trained his army there for desert warfare before deploying to Africa during WWII.
Must be some truth to that as we found tons of 50 cal. spent rounds all over the place in a certain area and heavy thick iron sheets with canon holes blasted through.

As i remember its not the Rubicon but a good day of wheeling no less.
Anza Borrego and the surrounding deserts offer a lot to do but with bigger crowds than what you see in the Death Valley area and into Nevada.
Asking the same question on the SoCal Chapter's forum might get more responses.
Sandstone Canyon is a must:


You can continue on for some pretty technical rock crawling.

Chariot Canyon also has a VERY technical rock garden (which can be easily bypassed):


Otherwise, lots of exploring to do in Anza, but not much of it needs 4LO (or even 4WD). Truckhaven/Ocotillo Wells SVRA pretty much surrounds Anza and had a lot of exploration options.

You can also head up to Corral Canyon for days worth of rock crawling:

Sandstone Canyon can be done with your entire crew (31s/single locker would make it easy). Chariot canyon rock garden might result in some body damage and winching. Corral Canyon is gonna cause some damage on the harder trails... :D
Moved this to SoCal Chapter. If this is the wrong place guys pm me and I'll put it where it belongs. :wave:
Wish I had known you were in DV. It would have been good to have connected you up with my son, who lives out there, and maybe show you some hidden gems.

David Bricker / SYR
Another great option in the area is Valley of the Moons, not very hard from a rock crawling standpoint, but the scenery is spectacular.
I'd say go to Truckhaven Hills (over to 86, up to Salton City, turn left on NORTH Marina Drive. N Marina crosses a bunch of "car" streets -- Savoy, Falcon, Fairlane, Catalina, Corvair), then quickly turns to dirt; go between the two big hills and it's a lot of lovely stuff out there. I haven't been to Truckhaven in a few years now, and some areas may be closed, but it's close to Borrego and well worth checking out.

Truckhaven is mud hills, and some random gulleys and canyons too. Google the Phone Booth, the Toilet, the Notches, the Bike Tree... um. When wheeling there, keep in mind that when running straight up a track up a hillside, it may not be a straight way down on the other side. A lot of those tracks lead to mesas, but some only lead to a 8-12ft wide bridge to a wider area, requiring a hard turn at the top of the hill. If you barrel up and over the top, you may go tumbling down a trackless hill to the bottom on the other side.

South of S22, also almost to Hwy 86, is the Training Grounds, a manmade offroad playground that has some pretty crazed stuff.

North of S22 and west of the training grounds is the Calcite Mine, there's a marked trail to it, I believe.

There's also a "Pumpkin Patch" out in Ocotillo Wells, somewhere (I followed others) with a bunch of weird round rocks all over, it's pretty cool to see and is a known attraction...

Reach out to JumpThis (Rick lives in Borrego) or XtremeXJ (Curt lives in Indio but his nickname is the Mayor of Truckhaven), and see if they have more input, as well.

Have fun, and be safe!
There's also a "Pumpkin Patch" out in Ocotillo Wells, somewhere (I followed others) with a bunch of weird round rocks all over, it's pretty cool to see and is a known attraction...

Nice place. I spent Christmas eve camped there a few years ago. That night we got 70mph winds out of nowhere.

Lots of awesome areas out there to explore. If you're up for a hike you can go check out the Goat Canyon Rail Road trestle. Pretty awesome landmark out there. I think it would be quicker hike if you drove into Carizzo canyon then walked in. We drove to Indian Hill and hiked in from there and it was a 12 mile round trip. Long walk.

If you like to shoot there's some shooting areas just north of the 10 on some BLM land that's sandwiched between Anza Boreggo and the highway.

There's a place called indian hill. It's a short walk from to get to this from a sand road. Supposed to be an old indian watchout post and possible fertility site. There's a vagina carved into one of the rocks haha. The top has a rock that is hollowed out that supposedly got used as a tub when the area got rain.




The pumpkin patch is off camera to the left of this photo.

Dino sculptures are scattered though out the Ocitillo (sp messed up) Wells area.

One of the obstacles in the play area

Around the indian hill area.

There's lots of stuff to see and do and my pictures suck but there's a lot of resources out there (including here) for info on where to head.
Salton Sea. Don't drive out on the "beach" too far you will sink and it's a very expensive tow



The playground area in Ocotillo Wells

Just a random hill I camped on close to the Ocotillo "airport" The airport is really just a dirt strip. Our aircraft use to use it for training and as an emergency landing spot when needed.

More of the play area. The Bronco got himself stuck to practice recovery techniques.

Fish Creek wash dead ends to this view. A must see if you are in the area.

More Dinos. I used to essentialy live out in the desert during the winter time, during the summer I'd spend more time in the mountains.

large obstacle in the play area. It's fun to sit back and watch people try to climb this.

Convoy ops out here results in a lot of dust. Good radio comms and some separation help out a lot.


This is all dust. I had to stop turn on all my lights and radio I was stopping. Visibilty was almost zero and I had narrowly avoided driving into a few very large holes at this point.
X2 on the Goat canyon trestle, super cool. I'm too lazy to hike it, but I keep a dirtbike handy.
All the above, IF !! you took the trip I hope it was good... with the world going sideways and all...
I'm with John on the rail hike...
Heed Devil Dog's advice about the shore of the Salton Sea...
Allot of remote camping E.N.E. of the Salton Sea up to I-10 more wilderness as well. Flowers are trying to pop...

I hear they have closed down almost everyplace out by the Salton sea. I haven't been out that way for awhile. But look for signs cause they will fine you for bypassing the signs. I got in trouble for running my area out here in my backyard as we call it.

But last time we was out that way we found the little people town. Cool place to check out, if you have kids they will love it.
My favorite is Canyon Sin Nombre off S2. Short trail but scenic. Tie that to Arroyo Del Diablo and Diablo Drop Off to fish creek for a half day trip. Check out the Mud caves along the way. The Hike to the trestle would be good to do this day as the entrance to Canyon Sin Nombre is close to the trail head for the hike. BLM land just south of the park and S/W of S2 has some nice camping where you can have a ground fire. (Not allowed in the park). Have fun! It's one of my favorite backyard play areas.
I heard from a friend last eve. that Ocotillo Wells was shut down till ?? $1000 fine...

My guess is the OP is probably out on his trip :dunno: didn't go or is locked down elsewhere...