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Anza Borrego - The Mud Caves of Arroyo Tapiado Wash

Monday, April 11, 2011

 Anza Borrego - The Mud Caves of Arroyo Tapiado Wash

Another of the many unique areas in Anza Borrego Desert State Park are the Mud Caves of Arroyo Tapiado Wash. The wash cuts through a desolate area of badlands in the southern portion of the park. The geology of this area is a complex maze like terrain of rolling hills with little to no vegetation. Side canyons head off in all directions only to dead end or double back on themselves. The entire area was once sea floor and is made up of thick silt deposits. The caves have formed over thousands of years by storm water runoff which becomes channeled underground and then over long periods scours away the relatively loose sand deposits. There are many caves in the area which are accessible.

For me this area has become another example where the power of the internet and GPS is not necessarily a good thing for unique spots like this. I first visited this area probably ten to twelve years ago after reading a few line description in an old field guide. There were very few tire tracks into the area or any other signs of people visiting on any kind of a regular basis. On my recent trip, I finished the eight mile drive in up a couple desert washes to find probably fifteen to twenty vehicles parked in the area. Along with the people has come the inevitable bits of trash, broken glass, scratched graffiti on cave walls and trampling of plants and fragile sand formations. I asked a couple groups how they had found the area and all said we just looked it up on the internet. Maps, descriptions, gps coordinates to every cave entrance its all there.

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Anza Borrego - Mud Caves Arroyo Tapiado Wash
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