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Discover "The Slot" and colorful Hawk Canyon at Borrego Mountain in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Amid the windswept wastelands of the Anza-Borrego Desert, Borrego Mountain's twin buttes (the East and West buttes) rise with low and broad profiles. From a distance they may look unremarkable, but at close range they reveal a number of scenic wonders. East Butte lies mostly within the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, while West Butte is largely a hiker's and camper's domain. We'll focus only on the latter.

To reach the entry point for West Butte, turn north on unpaved Buttes Pass Road from Highway 78 at a point 1.5 miles east of Borrego Springs Road. The dirt roadways ahead, while passable for most ordinary cars a year ago, were coated with drift sand during and after summer thunderstorms in 2003. Now these roads can be recommended only for vehicles with four-wheel drive.

After traveling 1.0 mile on Buttes Pass Road, you reach a fork. On the left-branching road, 0.9 mile farther, is a small parking area for the upper entry into "the Slot," a slot canyon incised deeply into sandstone and siltstone strata along the base of West Butte.

A short and steep little descent (or maybe butt-slide) puts you in the upper reaches of the Slot. Mark the spot at the bottom of the descent so you will know where to climb out later when you return the same way. The Slot narrows to a two-foot width as you work your way "downstream." While squeezing past opposing rock walls, notice the tilted parapets and giant chockstones wedged above you. After 10 or 15 minutes of downhill meandering, the canyon walls part, and you come upon the upper end of a vehicle route through Borrego Mountain Wash. Follow the wash downhill another ten minutes or more for a look at some interesting "Swiss cheese" or wind-cave sandstone formations on the slope to the right. On the left is one of Anza-Borrego's several "dropoffs," or one-way-downhill vehicle routes for adventurous jeep or SUV drivers.

From the parking lot for the Slot, you can follow a hiking route north and northeast to the highest point on West Butte. There you'll enjoy a comprehensive view of the surrounding desert landscape. Heading west or northwest from that rocky summit, it is possible to gain access to an intricate array of dangerously steep and eroded ravines -- not recommended for inexperienced hikers. This flash-flood-torn, corrugated landscape is mostly hidden from view.

Back at the fork one mile in on Buttes Pass Road, a right turn takes you toward and over a small crest and down to the entrance of Hawk Canyon. Inside this small canyon is one of the finest drive-in camping areas in Anza-Borrego. Pale, crumbling granites make up the east canyon slope, while red-tinted sandstones on the west slope are reminiscent of desert locales in southern Utah.

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Amid the windswept wastelands of the Anza-Borrego Desert, Borrego Mountain's twin buttes (the East and West buttes) rise with low and broad profiles. From a distance they may look unremarkable, but at close range they reveal a number of scenic wonders. East Butte lies mostly within the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, while West Butte is largely a hiker's and camper's domain. We'll focus only on the latter.

To reach the entry point for West Butte, turn north on unpaved Buttes Pass Road from Highway 78 at a point 1.5 miles east of Borrego Springs Road. The dirt roadways ahead, while passable for most ordinary cars a year ago, were coated with drift sand during and after summer thunderstorms in 2003. Now these roads can be recommended only for vehicles with four-wheel drive.

After traveling 1.0 mile on Buttes Pass Road, you reach a fork. On the left-branching road, 0.9 mile farther, is a small parking area for the upper entry into "the Slot," a slot canyon incised deeply into sandstone and siltstone strata along the base of West Butte.

A short and steep little descent (or maybe butt-slide) puts you in the upper reaches of the Slot. Mark the spot at the bottom of the descent so you will know where to climb out later when you return the same way. The Slot narrows to a two-foot width as you work your way "downstream." While squeezing past opposing rock walls, notice the tilted parapets and giant chockstones wedged above you. After 10 or 15 minutes of downhill meandering, the canyon walls part, and you come upon the upper end of a vehicle route through Borrego Mountain Wash. Follow the wash downhill another ten minutes or more for a look at some interesting "Swiss cheese" or wind-cave sandstone formations on the slope to the right. On the left is one of Anza-Borrego's several "dropoffs," or one-way-downhill vehicle routes for adventurous jeep or SUV drivers.

From the parking lot for the Slot, you can follow a hiking route north and northeast to the highest point on West Butte. There you'll enjoy a comprehensive view of the surrounding desert landscape. Heading west or northwest from that rocky summit, it is possible to gain access to an intricate array of dangerously steep and eroded ravines -- not recommended for inexperienced hikers. This flash-flood-torn, corrugated landscape is mostly hidden from view.

Back at the fork one mile in on Buttes Pass Road, a right turn takes you toward and over a small crest and down to the entrance of Hawk Canyon. Inside this small canyon is one of the finest drive-in camping areas in Anza-Borrego. Pale, crumbling granites make up the east canyon slope, while red-tinted sandstones on the west slope are reminiscent of desert locales in southern Utah.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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