Anza Borrego Part 3 (Calcite Mine and Slot Canyons)

Slot Canyons pictured from bottom floor (see how narrow?) to mid height to the sky above

Beautiful Slot Canyons! (Again!) At the Calcite Mine area in Anza Borrego, there were 3 that I saw but we went through one. Truthfully we ran out of time. But one could easily spend the whole day here exploring. Initially we had planned on seeing both the Calcite Mine/Slots, and the Pictograph Trail (From my Anza Borrego Part 1 post, hiking challenge). But we spent the whole day at the Calcite Mine/Slots easily and never made it to the Pictograph trail. And it was another magnificent adventure!

This whole area left of the ocotillo plant glistened from a distance (right photo). I went closer and saw calcite chunks embedded in the floor

The highlight of my day was finding calcite chunks scattered near the ocotillo in the picture to the above right near the mine. They were beautiful and glistening all over the floor but I enjoyed and did not take any. Rocks, plants, calcite are protected by the park and so I always leave things as they are found. But I took my time and enjoyed the view and took pictures!

[Warning: This hike is a bit more challenging. Finding it was tricky and there are lots of slopes. Bring lots of water and be prepared. Do not go to the Slots if there is a chance of rain. Also the Calcite Mine Trail is not shaded and is a challenging climb (my kids couldn’t keep up so I continued by myself with a walkie talkie and hiking bag)].

Beautiful view of the canyon below as I hiked the Calcite Mine Trail


Those were the views I enjoyed at the top of this Calcite Mine Trail. Gorgeous! I will describe the hike in a bit.

The trail head parking lot is a little turnout (second photo). The third photo shows the only sign there.  First photo shows S22 coming from the the Christmas circle (west) direction. The right photo shows the S22 going towards marker 39 (east) and the Salton Sea (the big antenna tower is also in that direction).

To start, finding the trail head was a bit challenging.  There weren’t many signs.  We knew from the ranger that we were looking for the mile 38 marker (about 18 miles from the Christmas circle), so we saw it, but the brown sign close to it said ‘scenic overlook.’ We found out later that was a bigger parking lot for the trail head but you just need to walk a little further. We then saw a little turnout (across the street from a sign that said Truckhaven) and drove right past it the first time. But as we got closer to a tower heading towards mile 39 marker, we thought, ‘it was back there.’ So we turned around. The start to the trail head was indeed that little turnout. The sign there indicated “Staying on Target” (see above photo). Inside that sign were pictures of calcite and the slot canyon so now we knew we were on the right track.

We parked in that little turnout and descended down the slope to the left of the mountain. It was a big steep drop. Be very careful and watch for traffic!  Apparently people with jeeps and 4W drives go on adventurous journeys down this drop as there were tracks everywhere and soon enough, a jeep slowly and courteously passed us.



At the bottom of the downward slope, you hit a junction. There was a sign to the right that said “Palm Wash” and another sign up a hill indicating “Calcite Mine.” We weren’t sure where the slot canyon was as there was no signs, but I labeled it in the picture below.

We decided we were going to the Slot first. To go to the slots directly, make a left where that white car is parked. Go for about 0.5 miles and you will arrive at the start of the slot canyon.




The sign said no motorized vehicles. And I knew we found the Slots! Yay! Absolutely gorgeous! In comparing this slot canyon to the others we’ve been to so far, this one was even more scenic..with some climbing and ducking involved.  See pictures below…


A nice overhead bridge to walk under…
Duck your head underneath here…kids loved this!
Climb up and down this rock lined step (beware, it’s a good 3 feet, so we had to help the kids up)
Some pretty narrow areas that are fun to walk through!

After the slots, I decided to head up the Calcite Mine Trail. I usually never hike alone, but my kids were tired and could not climb anymore, so hubby agreed to watch the kids and I took my walkie talkie and hiking bag and promised to stay safe and talk to any fellow hikers going back so that my family would know that I was ok. With this particular trail, I was able to see our car for most of the hike as I was higher up and most of the desert was completely desolate. This part of the hike was 4 miles round trip.

The sign to the left said ‘Calcite Mine’ and the climb up was a good workout! And that was just the start of many steep climbs ahead!
Up and up it went continuously…


Finally a sign! This was probably a little past halfway to the mines. There was also a sign that said no motorized vehicles.


This was to the right of the trail as I was heading up. I noticed another gorgeous slot canyon! This one looked interesting as it had a pastel look…reminded me of the pastel rocks in Death Valley and Valley of Fire. If I had time, I would’ve climbed down into it but I promised my family I would hurry back. There’s always next time though! 🙂


I knew I was pretty high up (between 600-1000 ft) when the views started getting amazing. This was to the left of me as I headed up. I could start seeing the badlands below. Even in the photo now, I noticed glistening along the dirt…could that have been calcite chunks I didn’t notice?


I passed one fellow hiker and he said those holes in the hills (looks like little ‘wind tunnels’) were the mines and previous drill sites. I thought I’d walk up the hill some more and see what was near the two round rocks perched there…


I reached it after a nice inclined climb and saw that it just kept going up. At that point, I thought I should head back because I had explored enough and my family might start getting worried by now. I tried the walkie talkie there and realized reception was likely blocked by a huge rock formation. So I headed downhill.


Those were the mines. No heavy equipment was left behind. But apparently they drilled in the trenches and the calcite chunks were all over the floor. I started looking more carefully.


On the right side (as I was heading downwards now), there was another slot canyon! I followed it for a bit until I realized the rocks were getting big enough that climbing up to get past the narrows might be difficult so I turned around.


And then as I went further down, I saw some tire tracks near a random area near the edge of the trail. I went closer, saw sparkles and found a whole area of calcite chunks! Eureka! 🙂


After that, I headed down. I was very satisfied I got to explore the mines, find calcite, and even venture up a little past the mines and then into part of another slot canyon, so I completed my trek by enjoying some more amazing views before I joined my family at the start of the trail head.  Luckily the kids were quite content to have a long snack/rest break in the shade while I was hiking up above. Hubby did a good job keeping them well fed and entertained while I was exploring. Everyone left happy.natureinspiredmom.calcite23.jpg

Overall my Fitbit watch told me I hiked a little under 7 miles…roughly 3 for the trip to and from the slot canyon below (actually the Slot canyon was probably less than 2 miles round trip but I went back and forth…checked it out ahead of my family to make sure we were going the right way and then ran back to let them know I found it) and then 4 for the Calcite Mine trail. One could’ve really explored all day and taken all the side slot canyons but I was grateful for everything I got to see. Really made for a great day and wonderful workout!

Thanks for following me on this journey…until next time!

Please be sure to check out my previous posts on Anza Borrego:

Anza Borrego Part 1 here and Anza Borrego Part 2 here

(The state park is huge so I have to make a series out of it…and I’m still not done with the hiking challenge I described in Anza Borrego Part 1 :0).




7 thoughts on “Anza Borrego Part 3 (Calcite Mine and Slot Canyons)

    1. This hike is definitely a good climb, I’ll be honest. But, I wonder if a hiking stick and/or knee brace might help ? Just wondering if you might be able to go enjoy the marvelous views still! I actually have been training for a marathon and my knees were a bit funny that day but it was still manageable. But then again, I felt them afterwards. :0


    2. Oh, another thought…the slots can be done separately too…the calcite mine trail has the nice climb, but not the slots. Besides the couple of areas of ducking and climbing, it’s actually quite nice and flat.


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