|Highest Elevation:||381 feet|
|Duration:||About 1 hour|
|Shape of Trail:||Connector|
|Best Direction to Travel:||West|
|Nearest Town:||Salton City|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Salton City|
|Official Road Name:|
|Management Agency:||Ocotillo Wells SVRA|
Overlapping San Diego and Imperial Counties nestled between Anza Borrego Desert State Park and the Salton Sea is the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area; an 85,000-acre playground for off-road enthusiasts. Some of the popular attractions in the park are Truckhaven, the 4x4 Training Area, the Badlands, Pumpkin Patch, Shell Reef, Devil's Slide, and Blowsand Hill among many others. There is a network of dirt trails and washes that sprawl throughout the park. The main trails are marked with street signs at every intersection, and trail markers at every 1/10th mile. Please use caution while traveling through the park keeping mindful that other vehicles (such as dirt bikes, quads, and buggys) can be zipping through.
Dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Some ruts. Slight grades, up to 10 degrees. 2WD under most conditions. Rain or snow may make 4WD necessary. Usually one and a half to two vehicles wide.Read more about our rating system
Riding the trail from east to west, the trailhead begins at the intersection of Cross Over Trail and Tectonic Gorge. From this point head north (right turn). There are mile markers posted every 1/10 mile with the trail name. Because this is an open off-road area, there may be trails that split off or crisscross over the main trail. Look out for the trail markers to ensure you are on the correct path. Starting from the east end, the first trail marker you'll see is marked 5.2 miles and will be in descending order as you travel westward.
On the right (north) side of the trail is a pathway to the upper ledge where there is more area to camp. While there are only 7 shaded picnic tables with fire pits spread throughout this area, there is plenty of space for open/primitive camping. This is where we camped during Tierra Del Sol 2017.
On the left (south) side of the trail, there are hilly dirt paths crisscrossing in every direction. This is a fun area to play around in your quad, dirt bike, side by side, buggy, or vehicle. 2wd vehicles are not recommended. Stock 4x4 with clearance should be ok. Walk any sections before committing to it to be certain it is something you and your vehicle can handle. It's easy to become lost as you wander through this area, but when you find your way back to the main trail just look for the trail marker.
Ocotillo Wells SVRA offers a variety of unique land features and scenery that has lured TV and film companies to come and shoot their scenes. Tectonic Gorge is no exception as the hillside at this location was featured in the final episode of the cult classic TV show The X-Files.
Here on the left (south) side of the trail you will find an interpretive display, and protected habitat area. While Ocotillo Wells offers the freedom of open OHV travel for off-road enthusiasts, it is illegal to disturb the wildlife or drive over vegetation. Some areas such as this are protected to preserve the fragile habitat. Please follow the Tread Lightly principles to help maintain the environment, stay safe, and to keep OHV parks open.
At this spot is a rock slide area next to the hill on the left (south) side of the trail with a bypass on the right (north). The forces of water, wind, and seismic activity has transformed the landscape of Ocotillo Wells throughout time and continues to be ever changing. If you have visited the area in the past, chances are the terrain may be different on your next visit. The eroding landscape can pose a danger so take precaution while traveling close to hillsides, between slots, or atop ledges.
Stay to the left (southwest) of the fork to continue on Tectonic Gorge. Turning right (northwest) at the fork leads to Gettysburg. Note: Gettysburg will also join Tectonic Gorge at the east end of the trail. If you decide to take Gettysburg on the return trip eastward, it will loop you back to this location.
This is where the trail begins to ascend up out of the gorge. Trail marker indicates there is 1.8 miles remaining to reach the east end.
As you reach the plateau look left (south) for a grand view of the Badlands. Be cautious not to get too close to the edge. There is a split on the right (north) side of the trail that heads towards intersecting Gettysburg and to Borrego Salton Seaway S-22. There are large wavy washboard sections in this area. (This terrain feature may be what is referred to as "whoop-de-doos".)
Large Ocotillo plants are scattered throughout this mesa. If you happen to visit the area after the rain, you may see the Ocotillos blooming with fiery red flowers on the branch tips. On the right (north) side of the trail you can see the USN Microwave Tower in the distance. This sky touching relic is situated on the north side of Borrego Salton Seaway S-22 on the border between Truckhaven and Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
On the left (south) side of the trail is a drop in access point into Tierra Del Sol trail. Tierra Del Sol trail from this location travels southeast into the Badlands and leads to NF Arroyo Salado and Cross Over Trail.
This is the end or beginning of Tectonic Gorge and connects with the Gettysburg trail. At this location you will have reached the border between Ocotillo Wells SVRA and Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The quickest way back to Borrego Salton Seaway S-22 is to take Gettysburg and continue northeast until you see the highway on your left. If you stay on Gettysburg, it will return you back to the east side of Tectonic Gorge.
Trailhead Coordinates: 33.264520, -116.023750