Calcite Mine Area/Slot Canyons Hike
Plus a visit to Fonts Point Overlook of the Badlands

Hike Date:  Sunday, February 16th, 2014  08:00 AM - 05:00 PM / Possible Campout: Feb. 15th thru Feb. 17th (President's Day 3-day Holiday Weekend) See below for details.

Location: Anza Borrego Desert State Park, NE corner, near the base of the Santa Rosa Mtns.
Possible campout at nearby Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground (see below for camping details)


This hike is located in the NE part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. (Check the Maps page of this website for more directions and maps to print out.) Carpools will depart Hillcrest by 8 am this time, rather than 9 am. We'll plan to meet out at the hike site by 10:30 am and start hiking about 10:45.

The parking area for the hike is on the north side of Highway S-22 (Borrego Salton Seaway), at Mile 38.0, due east/northeast of Borrego Springs. Turn off at mile 38, to your left, into the turnout parking area. The parking area out there has a readily visible call box, and is located about one-half mile west of the obvious microwave tower. (If you go past the microwave tower, you've gone too far.)

Background info.:

NOTE: Weather permitting, we'll follow thru with this hike. But with winter storms and rainfalls, we'll have to cancel if it's raining out in the Borrego Springs area on this day. (Can't risk flash floods in the slot canyons.) Click HERE for weather forecast details. As is often the case, it may be sprinkling in San Diego, but sunny in the desert. We require each hiker to bring their own appropriate hiking gear, food, and sports drinks. Be sure to do your "carb loading" before the hike by eating a good meal/healthy snack and drinking liquids, avoiding dehydration and fatigue. Carb loading the day before is useful, too. And if you leave the hike early, please notify the hike leader directly, so there's no question that you may have gotten lost or injured along the way. Remember... Safety first.

Dogs are only allowed on the dirt road, on leash. They are not permitted off leash, or off road/on trails/in slot canyons. Beware: Because of the state's poor economy, there are heavy ticket fines, determined by a court judge, for being cited by a ranger!

Above: Calcite crystals in trench, lying on ground, and in pure form.
Above: Our hikers on upper left and calcite surface trenches at bottom right.

Hike Description:

See Jerry Schad's "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" © 2007, Chapter 29, Santa Rosa Mts. pp. 331-332, Trip 8 Calcite Mine pp. 343-344, for hike details. ** moderate degree of difficulty out of a possible *****. This hike is 4 miles roundtrip and will take about 4 hours to complete. Elevation gain/loss is about 800'.

This hike takes place at the SE end of the Santa Rosa Mountains and brings us up into chaotic rock formations and thru slot canyons (slot-shaped ravines). Traversing single-file thru the slot canyons is always a unique experience and these are some of the best in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park! We'll hike in from the highway on the dirt road (Calcite Road), to where the slot canyons cross it. There, we'll exit the road and head north into the slot canyon, then climb up out of it and hike cross-country NE a short ways, coming out to the dirt road's end, where the Calcite Mine sign is.

Stopping for lunch up near Locomotive Rock, a honeycombed slab of whitish sandstone, you'll have a sweeping view of hundreds of square miles of mountains and desert. We'll explore the surface trench mines where optical-grade calcite crystals were mined for use in gunsights during WWII. After lunch and some exploring in the adjacent slot canyon where mining explosives were once stored, we'll return .5 mile along the dirt road, then exit it and head south into more slot canyons of Palm Wash.

Proceed downstream where the ravine narrows to one person at a time. After reaching jumbled blocks of sandstone at the bottom of the ravine, turn right and walk .3 mile downstream, then exit the canyon to the right, up a short section of four wheel drive trail, which leads back to the Calcite Mine 4WD road. (NOTE: Be sure not to miss this turnoff exit out of the wash, or you'll be faced with a LONG extended hike, way down Palm Wash to the highway!) Once you're up out of the wash, follow the dirt road back to the highway where you parked.

GPS devices, as well as GPS apps on your smartphones, are useful on this hike. If you have one, bring it along for the practice. And if you plan to hike in this area alone, be prepared with GPS waypoints, a compass and a map. It's easy to get lost in these canyons! It's also possible to create your waypoints ahead of time from info. provided on Google Earth.

Come join us for some fun in the sun on this popular desert adventure!

Campout Information:

In conjunction with the Sunday hike, we're planning a possible campout this 3-day President's Day Holiday Weekend. It'll be at nearby Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground, across the highway from the Calcite Mine area, and only 5.6 miles down the road to the west (about 8 minutes away), between Mile 34 and 35 on theBorrego Salton Seaway, S-22 Highway. Arroyo Salado is badlands camping. It is in malpais (bad country) in the huge Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP).

It's a primitive campground, meaning there are only pit toilets (restrooms enclosed in a building, not flush toilets, clean and well-kept out there). No shade ramadas, picnic tables, fire rings. No Starbucks, Trader Joes, 5-star hotels, etc.! You must bring everything you need for camping, including extra potable water. (This is what separates the men from the boys, so to speak.) Remember: "Pack it in, pack it out!"

The actual camping area is only .2 miles off of the main highway. A sandy road goes down the wash with various turn-outs where you can park your car and camp. Carry your tent up over the hummocks, and you're there. Everywhere is a good place to pitch a tent. The desert floor is clean and sandy. Sit down and listen to the wind and look for lizards flitting over the rocks and dunes. Wait, and the desert comes to you.

Some members may go out on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning to secure a site. Others may not arrive out there until Saturday afternoon, with plans to camp Saturday, and possibly Sunday night. Camping is free and it's an open area, first come, first served. Campfires must be contained in a portable, metal fire pit that you bring with you. For members interested in the campout, please contact our MeetUp group for details.