Today we decided to collectively go on a big adventure and off road to Sandstone Canyon at Split Mountain in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to visit the wind caves. Callie had to be left behind because I wasn’t sure how hot it would get and it just felt wiser to let her rest quietly at home.
It was quite a bumpy ride and Michael may have ended up on the wrong road, (we turned down a less traveled canyon trail) because it got so narrow and the rocks were too difficult to navigate. You actually follow ancient river beds where flash flooding occurs when it rains heavily. We almost made it to the end before we were forced to turn around and head back to the wind caves to watch the sunset.
As you ride along, you pass an unusual geological rock formation called an ”anticline” or ”drag fold” that leaves you in wonder at the powerful forces that would have created such an unusual site. Geologists believe they were caused by massive flash floods that churned and pushed rock and sand in front of the water. This particular flood came to an abrupt halt when it hit solid granite rock. The layers of sand and rock folded up and over itself because it couldn’t go any further. Continuous erosion and flooding lowered the river bed and exposed the canyon walls that we see today.
Right as we got to the sign describing the geology of the scene, a coyote dashed passed us in fright because the canyon walls were too high for it to scamper up and the opening was so narrow, the coyote was forced to run right past us.
The wind caves were amazing and looked like little pueblo dwellings or something on a moonscape! They apparently were formed by the onslaught of robust and sustained winds over many years that carried sand and debris which then chipped away at the softer sandstone walls of parts of the canyon. You could stand up in some of them and it was a perfect place to watch the sunset in the west.
The skies were still stormy and the temperature cold enough for midday exploring in the desert. The sunset dimmed in shades of molten gold and amber and faded into pale tints of purple and pink that unfolded ever so slowly. By the time we were finished watching the sun dip behind the clouds, it suddenly grew dark and we had to scamper back down the trail at a quickened pace. Once we got to the car and headed for home, it was already pitch black out and our headlights cast an eerie glow on the steep canyon walls that were illuminated by the light as we drove along. The highway felt so smooth after our off-road adventure.