Fish Creek Wash Anza Borrego Overview
Anza Borrego state park in southern California is a beautiful desert state park with endless amounts of off-road fun and free dispersed camping. The free dispersed camping is one of my favorite things about Anza Borrego, not having to worry about obtaining permits and making a reservation it makes a great place to just go off on a whim with friends and enjoy the outdoors.
ℹ️ Pro Tip: Off Road Recovery Gear Recommendations
While off-roading make sure you fully prepared for self recovery. Here are two items I recommend:
- Hi-Lift Jack (Amazon Affiliate): Helps if you get a flat while off-roading and can also be used as a mechanical winch. I have also used this to get out of snow and off rocks where I was center pinned.
- Traction Mats (Amazon Affiliate): Helps in muddy or slippery terrain where your tires cant get enough traction.
- Portable Battery Jump Starter (Amazon Affiliate): If your car battery dies while off-roading there may not be anyone around to jump start your battery. Use a portable jumper to be able to jump start your battery without anyone else around.
Fish Creek Was Anza Borrego Map
Fish Creek Wash is a great trail, that's not too technical for beginner off-roaders and offers the most diverse views as you drive through desert canyons which eventually open up. The trailhead is just outside of Ocotillo Wells California. The trailhead for Fish Creek Wash can be found here on Google Maps.
The trail map above can be downloaded on Caltopo here.
Fish Creek Wash is a great day trip if you are just looking to hit the trail in your off-road vehicle or what I like to do is go out and camp with some friends. If you are camping though you can make fires they must be in a container of some sort. You can not make ground fires, just make sure you take everything out that you brought and don't trash Anza Borrego and ruin it for the rest of us.
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Accessing Fish Creek Wash from Ocotillo Wells
Once you drive past Ocotillo Wells and get to the end of Split Mountain Road you veer off and are in Fish Creek Wash. It's pretty straight forward here, but it can get muddy if you go right after a rainstorm. Just follow the dried out wash all the way towards the canyon.
Fish Creek Wash is pretty sandy but not too deep, I have seen Subarus make it pretty far up. The best part of Fish Creek Wash is its majestic scenery. Compared to most desert trail rides this one gets pretty cool looking really fast once you get into the canyon. It is actually really impressive:
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As you drive out the canyon it gets a bit flatter but there are a ton of trails that go off the main trail that are great for camping. Also just toward the end of the Canyon are the Wind Caves, which I hear are pretty cool to check out but I have not checked them out myself yet.
Camping in Fish Creek Wash Anza Borrego
I usually get out there after work on Friday so I tend to set up camp first. If you plan on camping try to get out there early because there can be some amazing desert sunsets:
When it's not too cold out there, I love to go out with a handful of friends and set all our jeeps up in a square formation. It allows for the hanging of hammocks for ultimate relaxation in the desert at night.
If you camp just past the canyon, I recommend waking up early and getting a start further up Fish Creek Wash toward Sandstone Canyon. As the trail opens up it allows you to pick up some speed and the scenery drastically changes to open desert.
Sandstone Canyon Anza Borrego
Fish Creek Wash is a great trail, but if you are looking for more canyons you can break off into Sandstone Canyon, which can get more technical the more you drive up it. As you drive up Sandstone Canyon it gets pretty narrow to the point where it is just wider than my jeep. I would recommend going as far up it as you feel comfortable but be careful because there is a very tight spot towards the end. I gave it a go to try and squeeze through but ran into some issues and just turned around. My Jeep is pretty basic, no lift just some all-terrain tires:
All in all, Fish Creek Wash is one of my favorite trails in Anza Borrego, I keep going back with friends and its one of our favorite places to go and enjoy the outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of San Diego.
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