Adjacent to the S2 highway in the Anza Borrego Desert , is a small turnout marked by a historical landmark sign . It is easy to drive right by without giving it a second notice which is unfortunate.
The sign, numbered 472, marks a significant spot, where in 1847 a battalion of Mormon volunteers led by Philip St. George Cooke blazed a new wagon route west. The narrow route was widened using only hand tools to allow the passage of wagons and equipment on their way into California.
To circumvent the steep dry waterfall , the still visible trail was carved up along the canyon wall and continued west through the Anza Borrego Desert.
The route through Box Canyon, part of the Southern Emigrant Trail, was one of the most important land routes from the east into California.
Parking at the marker you can take a short hike which takes you down into the narrow canyon. From there head south along the trail staying left passing the colorful dry waterfall. An occasional wooden post marks the route.
As the canyon walls rise up around you, imagine what it must have been like for the battalion volunteers, and other settlers who made their way through this area centuries ago.