Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
875.00 ft (266.70 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
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Nestled in the Borrego Badlands of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, West Butte Mountain is a moderately difficult hike featuring a slot canyon and impressive panoramic views.

To reach the trailhead, head north on Buttes Pass Road from Highway 78 at mile marker 87.2. After around 2 miles on the dirt road, you’ll arrive at a parking area with views of the Borrego Badlands. From here follow a faint path northeast up a ridge toward West Butte Mountain, the highest peak within a 6-mile radius. Although there is no shade for this segment of the hike, the picturesque views of the Borrego Badlands on either side of the trail make up for it.

The desert floor is composed of layered sandstone, siltstone, and conglomerate. Over time, these layers have been carved by wind and water to create a fascinating maze of canyons and mesas. West Butte Mountain offers remarkable views as well. On a clear day the view extends to the Salton Sea to the east, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the north, and the Vallecito Mountains to the south.

Descend the western side of the mountain and keep an eye out for an indistinct footpath leading west. Soon after, the trail drops into a sandy ravine and becomes harder to follow, especially after heavy rain. It is possible to regain your bearings by climbing out of the canyon to find a higher vantage point, however, a handheld GPS is highly recommended. The canyon merges with Borrego Mountain Wash and gradually begins to loop back in the direction of a steep dirt road aptly dubbed “The Drop-Off.” The canyon walls are shaped into intricate pinnacles and parapets that become progressively taller and narrower. After passing through The Slot, the trail widens again. Veer right and a short scramble leads back to the parking area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Slot canyon. Beautiful views.

Cons

Slot canyon often crowded. Extreme summer temperatures.

Trailhead Elevation

815.00 ft (248.41 m)

Highest point

1,210.00 ft (368.81 m)

Features

Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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