Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon: Tips for Your Visit!

Have you ever hiked in any of the slot canyons throughout SoCal?  If not, I highly recommend you check out the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon next time you are in the Palm Desert area!  Read on for some tips on how to make your trip to the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon successful.

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Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon

The Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon is located in the Anza-Borrego State Park.  Located about a 2 hour drive from the Palm Desert area, you can easily make a day trip out of visiting this gorgeous state park.  A hike along the Anza-Borrego slot canyon offers breathtaking views throughout.  How do the slots form?  In very simple terms, as I understand it, the slots are formed as a result of erosion.

Kids taking in the beauty of the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon

How do I drive to The Slots?

I strongly recommend that you use a map app to get to the slot canyon parking lot.  You will find that you have to drive through quite a bit of open desert road to get to the small parking area for the slot canyon.  Even then, the sign is VERY small.  We almost missed the entrance to the parking area (a small dirt road that takes you further into the desert until you get to the parking) even though we were using a phone app.

Did I mention…take a car that you are comfortable taking on a dirt road!  My hubby’s first comment when we turned off the highway onto the dirt road?  “I’m happy we came in the SUV.”

Which trail do I take to get to the actual slots?

I know, you probably think this a weird question.  The reality is, you will park your car and look around, not exactly sure how to get to the actual slots.  No, it’s true!

The best advice I can give is to walk to the edge of the parking lot and look down.  Yes, that’s it!  You will see a flat walkway to the right side of the parking lot that is flat and looks like the way to go.  All I can say is…it lead to some super narrow trails that were frightening and I called the troops back to our original starting point.

Top view of the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon


I saw others go to the top of the trailhead and maneuver their way down from there.

Time to get real: To each their own, but I will be honest in saying that the process of finding a way down was a little scary.  Be sure to wear good walking or hiking shoes and be extra careful where you select to go down.  Better safe than sorry in my opinion!

Is this trail kid friendly?

I would say yes, but with a caveat.  You really can’t get to the slots (from what we could see) with a stroller.  Not to mention, there are some very narrow parts throughout the trail.  Also, you will want to make sure that your littles are wearing actual sneakers or hiking shoes.  I know that some kids only every want to wear flip flops and this is not the place to do it 😉

Family at narrow spot in Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon

Any tips for a successful trip?

I have a some basic, but important tips to make your trip out to the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon a comfortable one!

Arriving at the Anza-Borrego Slot Canyon

Take an SUV or other vehicle for dirt roads

There will be a dirt trail leading from the highway to the parking lot.  I recommend a vehicle that you can take through dirt roads comfortably.  I especially recommend this if you plan on driving out to the Anza-Borrego sculptures after the hike and on your drive back to Palm Desert area if you’re there on vacation.

Use GPS to find the entrance

The entrance to The Slot parking lot is not very well-marked.  An app will make it much easier to find your way.

Arrive early 

Aim to arrive to The Slots early for a couple of reasons.  One, you’ll want to arrive early to secure a spot in the very small parking lot.  Two, you want to beat the heat by heading out in the early morning hours.  We arrived at 10:30 a.m. during spring break and hiked for about 45 minutes.  The temperature was 84 when we arrived, but we were are all ready for shade and air-conditioning by the time the hike was over.

Check the Anza-Borrego State Park website!

You’ll want to be sure you visit during ideal weather conditions and also be up to date on any rules.  As you know, Corona Virus has caused a constant changing of rules anywhere you go in the state at any given time.

What to wear

Wear neutral colors 

You’re going to laugh…bees.  Bees are the reason you will want to wear neutral colors.  I don’t know if the bees are swarming there all year, or just in the Spring (when we went).  I had a bright purple cap with floral on it…that meant bees were trying to be my friend throughout the hike.  Save yourself the drama and wear neutral, plain clothes if you can 😉

Take a wide-brimmed hat for shade 

Needless to say, it’s the desert and the sun beats down on you.  A wide-brimmed hat is the way to go!

Wear good supportive shoes 

You will find that some spots of the trail require some maneuvering and hiking up or down some rocky portions.  Wear good supportive sneakers or hiking shoes  (even better!) for the hike.  I saw a poor kid wearing sandals and in a panic as she was having to climb up some areas.

Basic Safety

If you have bee allergies… 

No joke, PLEASE take an Epi-Pen with you!  There were bees throughout the trail.  Even the restroom in the parking lot was swarming with them the day we went.

Don’t hike alone

The weather out in the middle of the desert can get pretty extreme.  You will definitely want to have another person with you while hiking.  It’s a great idea no matter where you hike.  You never know when an emergency might arise and you need help.

Take a backpack with you 

You’ll want to have two free hands when you’re hiking to The Slots.  You’ll want the pack for water and other essentials.

Take plenty of water for everyone    

It gets hot as it is in the middle of the desert.  In fact, there was a sign informing people to head back to their car once their water was half way done to ensure they had enough water to get back to the safety of their car.  This is no joke!

Quick Facts:

  • Visit the California State Parks website  for current park regulations and important facts about visiting.
  • Location: Borrego Springs, CA, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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