We left Leucadia on a damp, foggy winter morning in hopes of enjoying some clear desert skies. Our destination was the mud caves at Arroyo Tapiado in the Southern Anza Borrego Desert.
The Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves are the result of centuries of rain and flash floods which over time have formed an intricate labyrinth of tunnels , sink holes and slot canyons.
While we have been out to the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves a handful of times, this time the plan was to visit some of the caves we had not yet explored.
Exploring The Mud Caves
Once we arrived we established our “base-camp”, donned headlamps and entered the first dark cave opening. Now if you have any fears of tight places, E-Ticket cave (2nd on our list), isn’t the best cave to explore.
The tiny winding passages of E-Ticket require getting on your hands and knees to negotiate much of the dark, narrow, twisting route. Exiting E-Ticket cave and adjusting our eyes to the noon day sun, we hiked a bit south and found the entrance to Oxbow Cave.
Carey’s Big Mud Cave, which was our final cave, has ceilings reaching 70 feet high which make you feel like you are in an Indiana Jones movie. You can almost imagine hidden treasures, ancient skulls and eerie idols as you navigate your way through the large cavern and work your way back to daylight.
After a couple of hours of exploring we had a quick lunch , did a short 4-wheel drive trip up Canyon Sin Nombre and headed back to the coast.
If you live in Southern California the Arroyo Tapiado Mud caves in Anza Borrego are a great day trip.
From slot canyons and caves to towering cliffs it is truly a one of a kind destination. Just remember to bring a flashlight/headlamp and preferably long pants if you intend on doing any of the smaller caves. (Easier on the knees)
Check the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves photo album here
Other Mud Caves Trip Reports
Advice for exploring the Anza-Borrego Mud Caves
- Wear a helmet or some type of hard hat ⛑
- Trust me on this one
- A headlamp is useful and keeps your hands free while crawling 🔦
- Don’t explore the caves alone.
- Don’t walk on top of the caves.
- Some of the areas are very unstable.