Hellhole Canyon and the Slot

There’s not a ton of hiking near us in Anza-Borrego, but we’ve done two short ones that have made the stay here worth it. Indeed, hikes are a memorable as the names.

Hellhole Canyon

The park brochure description makes this out to be a 6-hour hike into the wastelands of misery, but we did it in about four, and we saw more green growing trees and ferns here than we have in any desert we’ve been to so far.

Maybe they name it Hellhole to keep people out. The park service certainly jokes with their signs: there were two grave-sized mounds of rocks by this one near the canyon entrance.

The walking was lovely, with various cacti around us and even a few sycamore trees. We had to scramble up and down some rocky sections though—I don’t enjoy that as much as Tracy. I’ll crawl through a hole happily instead of grasping my way up a rock face.

I think these cacti are lovely, even if one of them bites you—says Tracy from memories of childhood in Mexico. He thinks, now that he looks as them as an adult, that ends fall off and roll away from the cactus, so when you step on them, you feel like the cactus reached out to you aggressively. I will say in all fairness that neither of us touched a cactus on this hike.

The highlights of this hike are huge palm trees, with a small waterfall at the end. My photos don’t do the palms justice at all; they’re so big that when we walked through them we felt like were were on a desert island, totally isolated under their fronds.

More an oasis than a hell, except for the climbing. 🙂

The Slot

This hike was listed as a short, standard slot hike, and we’ve done several of those this fall and winter. Because the geology here is pretty uniform, just compacted sand everywhere, we didn’t have high expectations.

Man were we surprised, though. The sand was indeed uniform in color and texture, but look how tall and narrow this slot canyon is.

Tracy had to take off his backpack to slide though in several places, and I led the way, joking that if Tracy were to get stuck, I wouldn’t have to climb over him to get to the truck.

Here’s the hikers’ version of a sin against the “leave no trace” axiom: mounds and mounds of piled rocks. I used to think these were just a nuisance until I read that doing this messes with habitats for insects and reptiles. Duh. Don’t stack rocks!

But do walk through hellishly named canyons and boring-sounding ones, because you’ll ever know what you’ll find.

7 thoughts to “Hellhole Canyon and the Slot”

  1. I love living vicariously through your travels! Besides being bad for the habitat, stacking rocks is an awful lot of work. No thanks!