San Diego Trail Tramps ~ Scheduled Hikes for 2013

  Domelands Wind Caves in the Coyote Mountains of the Anza Borrego Desert


"Domelands" are ancient, fossilized sand dunes.

Date:  Sunday, January 20, 2013  9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (With campout/sleepover at the Desert View Tower the previous night.)


Location: The Domelands turnoff lies about 7 miles northwest of Ocotillo on Highway S-2 and just east of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park border. The 2 mile dirt road heads northeast and ends at a dirt parking area with a mangled information board.

Directions: From San Diego: Go East on Interstate 8 for about 86 miles. Just after you drop down into the desert, exit at Ocotillo. Then drive northwest for about 7 miles on Hwy S-2. There will be a dirt road on the right (northeast) with a brown offroad sign post with #093 on it, and an irregular 2x2 foot rock painted yellow with a blue green splotch at the top. Exit the Hwy on the right side and take the dirt road, veering left for 2 miles, where it will end in a dirt parking area with a mangled information board. If you have a regular vehicle, please drive slowly through the small gully and you will be alright. With caution, even a Toyota Prius can make it. Note: If you miss the turn off, the next land mark is the boarder patrol stop and trailer on Hwy S-2 (Just at the border of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park). Turn around and go back about 3 tenths of a mile.

As usual, we'll meet in Hillcrest at 8:45 am to arrange carpools, then depart at 9 am sharp. Our first stop will be at the Desert View Tower (about 10:15 AM) for half an hour. It's just off the I-8 freeway, near Jacumba. From San Diego/Hillcrest, take I-8 for about 75 miles and exit Interstate 8 at the In-Ko-Pah Park Road offramp. Turn left, go under the freeway, and turn right onto the old highway, which ends at the Desert View Tower.


After our visit to the Tower, we'll carpool back under the freeway and turn left onto the onramp of I-8, then drive east, down to Ocotillo and head up S-2 to the Domelands turnoff. Meet at the #093 dirt road turn off from HWY-S2 by 11:30 AM. From there, we'll caravan together on into the parking area/trailhead at the end of the dirt road. We'll start the hike about noon.

Background info.: The owner of the Desert View Tower (one of our members), has invited all hikers to stop by anytime they’re on their way to/from the Anza Borrego Desert State Park area. From the top of the tower there's a stunning panoramic view of the desert which stretches below to the east and north. Be sure to show your support and appreciation to Ben with a purchase or two from his eclectic collection of souviners. :^) (See below for info. on camping out at the Tower the day before this hike.)


The Domelands, which are ancient fossilized sand dunes, lie in the Coyote Mountains. Once covered by the Sea of Cortez, this desert area has fossilized sea life and amazing landscapes everywhere. This is a good place to view marine fossils aplenty, but you can't collect samples. The area lies in the Coyote Mountains Wilderness, which, despite occasional skeet shooters, protects all natural resources—be they animal, vegetable, or paleontological.


The Domelands are composed of folds and faults caused by ancient earthquakes. In some areas you will see many fossilized sea creatures (oyster fossil reefs, bivalve masses, fish skeletal remains, sand dollars, sea snail shells) as well as interesting mineral specimens and wind caves. Vegetation is extremely sparse. The rain rarely hits this part of the desert. The view on top of the domes is fantastic and goes on forever. The views are breathtaking of the Carrizo badlands, the painted gorge area, and the surrounding valleys and mountains.


Hike Description: Degree of difficulty is moderately strenuous, with the out-and-back distance at 6 miles. It's a 4.5-5 hr. round trip hike, including lunch break and photo ops. The elevation gain/loss is 1200'. This hike might be a bit different than the one in Jerry Schad's book. We will be doing a long oval loop with more interesting terrain changes instead of the long in and out with a small loop at the end.


We will take a 1/2 hour lunch at a natural sandstone bridge above a dry fall. We will also take short stops here and there for photo ops and rest. Be prepared for cool weather in the 40's-50's at this time of year. It can get very windy and cold out there, or it could be warm. Be prepared either way, with appropriate clothing and lots of water.

Campoout/Sleepover at the Desert View Tower:



A sleepover is planned at the Desert View Tower the day/night before our Sunday hike to Domelands. We've been invited by the owner (one of our members) to come out on Saturday and spend the night in the Tower itself. (It's often way too windy this time of year to pitch a tent outside, but you're welcome to try.) Each hiker should bring their own sleeping gear, etc. A potluck dinner party is in the works for Saturday nite (WooHoo!), and curling up in front of the stone fireplace in the middle of the Tower is first come, first served. ;^) For more details and to sign up for it so we each know how much food and drink to bring, please contact the Cyberhiker @ sbcglobal. net ASAP.