Sandstone Canyon 4×4 Trip Planner

For off-road activities and just experiencing the very best that Mother Nature offers, Southern California is a great place to start. Take the case of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the greater San Diego area in Southern California.

Sandstone Canyon is located in this area and is hands down one of the most favorite trails of off-roaders, campers, hikers, and other outdoor aficionados. It’s very easy to see why. Off Road blog MudUnlimited reports that Southern California is their #1 off requested road destination and trail map search.

Sandstone Canyon has always been considered the best trail, regardless of the adventurers’ experience level.

What Does It Offer?

Well, first, it has amazing, beautiful rock formations. These are rock formations carved out of natural rock over thousands of years.

If you are looking for out-of-this-world, almost alien landscapes outside of the Grand Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Sandstone Canyon is one of the best places for this type of scenery.

It also has mollusks beds, wind caves, canyon walls. If you are into paleoanthropology or early human culture, there are natural sandstone sculptures located here.

It offers a mixed bag of natural terrain, amazing off-road experiences, and great scenery.

If you’re looking to take a break from your nine-to-five routine with a weekend vacation or getaway, Sandstone Canyon should be one of your top choices.

As long as you’re properly equipped with the right 4×4 off-road vehicle or upgraded SUV with the right level of clearance, you’ll be able to enjoy the amazing terrain and diverse experiences Sandstone Canyon offers.

What Should You Look Forward?

Well, we’re talking about rocky, uneven terrain, bumpy washboards, and amazing dips.

The roads are also sandy with deep sand and packed dirt in many different areas.

So if you are looking for a rugged, all-terrain adventure, this is the place.

A Little Bit of Danger Can Go a Long Way

If you’re looking for adventure, Sandstone Canyon can dish it out. We’re not just talking about very tame trails that are relatively flat where nothing happens.

No! Far from it!

Instead, depending on the time of the year, you might be in for some flash floods. There are intense rains overnight, and it can lead to flash floods. There’s a tremendous amount of adventure out there.

With the right equipment though, low-level flash floods shouldn’t be an issue, but it all depends on where on the trail you are.

Some shallow parts of the trail are safe, but if you find yourself in a fairly deep part, this can be an issue.

The canyon itself is fairly short and narrow. We’re talking about 3.35 miles, but don’t let its short length fool you.

Again, depending on weather and other factors, this can be moderate to rough or even severe going.

So if have many years of experience under your belt as an off-roader, Sandstone Canyon can give you the challenge that you are looking for.

Camping Options

If you’re looking to camp in this area, please understand that many people already have the same idea. After all, if you’re looking for a romantic sunset or just amazing, all-natural sunrise views, it’s really hard to beat Sandstone Canyon.

It has many dispersed campsites all over and gives you quite a bit of leeway on where to set up camp.

But please understand that you cannot set up firepits, so you have to pick a campsite that allows for campfires. Just because camping is allowed in an area doesn’t automatically mean you can set up a fire.

Planning Tips

When planning a Sandstone Canyon trip, the ideal months to go range from October to April. You want to go within these months because the temperature is not too hot.

This is in Southern California, and it can get quite arid. In fact, it can be so dry in the hottest parts of the month that the heat can put a damper on your trip.

You don’t want to punish yourself, so you might want to consider October when things start to cool down to maybe as late as April. But after that, it’s just really a bit too hot for most people.

How to Get to Sandstone Canyon

1. Head south 11.5 miles on Borrego Springs Road.

2. Turn left on CA Highway 78 and drive for about 6.6 miles.

3. Make a right turn when you reach Split Mountain Road. You will soon see a sign.

4. Turn right and continue until you reach Fish Creek Wash Road.

5. You will have to pass through Fish Creek Wash Road and Split Mountain to reach Sandstone Canyon.

The great thing about going through these places is that they have amazing views. Many people prefer to camp around Fish Creek Wash Road and Split Mountain.

Furthermore, a lot of off-road enthusiasts would start in these other places and slowly make their way to Split Mountain and find themselves at Sandstone Canyon.

This greater area also makes for a great hiking trail. As you drive through the Sandstone Canyon, you will see other canyon attractions.

But keep in mind that the trail itself becomes narrower as you go further down the road. Since this area has narrow passages, please understand that you really have little space to turn around.

So it’s really important to make sure that when you’re driving, you don’t block anybody that’s trying to pass by.

Places to Check Out

You will also see Canyon Sin Nombre and Olla Wash and other desert and canyon landscapes that make for great local attractions because when you look at the terrain and their overall structure, they look completely out of this world.

If you plan to spend some time walking around instead of just off-roading from Point A to Point B, there are two canyons that you can explore.

The bigger, main canyon is pretty easy to access and navigate. You only need to follow it, and everything will be ok.

The smaller canyon is much narrower, so it takes a little bit more attention to detail.


The Sandstone Canyon trail itself is only 7 miles round trip. If you have little time and would like a day trip, you can pull it off with the Sandstone Canyon trail. It only takes you not over four hours to complete.

Before You Go

Before you go on the trail, make sure your 4×4 SUV has a high enough clearance and also make sure that it’s not so wide because the trails get narrow at certain points.

It’s also important to make sure that you know how to handle rocky terrains. Parts of the trail are packed with dirt and loose rocks, and this can lead to your vehicle taking up much more of the trail than it needs to.

Remember, people will try to pass you by, so you have to drive accordingly.

Other Places to Check Out

Besides Split Mountain, check out Fish Creek Wash, Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves, Mountain Palm Springs, Canyon Sin Nombre, and the Mud Palisades of Olla Wash.

These places are also worth visiting.