Visitor's View – Wind Caves


Last updated 5/10/2023 at 10:54am

If they call the wind Mariah, then surely, we must acknowledge the artist who created some of the most spectacular formations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Oceans, floods and even fire from ancient volcanoes certainly had a part in creating Anza-Borrego, but Mariah, even today, continues to shift the eternal sands and carve the sandstone buttes of the park.

The barren topography of the desert provides free access for the wind to do its work, but also allows visitors a clear view of nature's creative forces.

In several places there are formations known as wind caves, but the most dramatic of these are the grottos and nooks carved into sandstone at the southern mouth of Split Mountain in Fish Creek.

A fascinating drive through geological time and a short hike will take desert visitors to a wonderland of wind-eroded tunnels, caves and hollows just waiting for you to explore.

At the caves you will find a Swiss Cheese formation of carved pockets, caves, gouges and caverns, some large enough to walk into, waiting for you to explore.

Views from the Wind Caves offer a spectacular vista to the south and west over the intricately curdled Carrizo Badlands. Mariah did a magnificent job.

A visit to the Wind Caves is a perfect day trip, offering exploration by vehicle through one of the most fascinating areas of the park, as well as a chance to stretch your legs along the 1-mile, easy trail to the caves.

If you prefer to spend a few days in the area, there is a nearby campground at the entrance to Split Mountain, but thousands of open acres available for dispersed camping if you prefer to pitch a tent in the quiet of the badlands.

Out here, away from urban light, the true, breathtaking beauty of the night sky is on display.

On a night without the moon, the stars will hang overhead like a sequined blanket. When there is a moon, the muted light will paint the landscape in subtle hues that I'm sure the artist Mariah would approve.

So, let's load the wagon and begin the adventure of exploring the Wind Caves and surrounding Carrizo Badlands.

From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, go south and then east of Borrego Springs Road 11.5 miles to Highway 78.

Turn left and head east on 78 for 6.6 miles and turn right on Split Mountain Road. Continue South about 8 miles until the pavement ends and turn right into Fish Creek Wash. A high clearance vehicle is recommended from here on.

The drive to the Wind Caves trailhead is 4.4 miles through Split Mountain, a fascinating geological area.

Look for a sign on your left marking the trail to the caves. For those using GPS, the trailhead is located at 32.993 by -116.118.

The trail is exposed, so wear a hat, sturdy hiking shoes or boots and carry water. The shade of the caves and the sweeping view also make the destination a great place to enjoy lunch before the return hike.

Sitting in the caves, you may even hear Mariah whistling as she continues her artistic work in the Carrizo Badlands.

You can reach the author at Ernie at

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