We have read about Rockhouse Canyon Road in Borrego Springs on numerous blogs and decided we just had to see it for ourselves. We understood that the area for boon docking was not as large as in the past because of changes made by Anza-Borrego State Park, but that did not deter us. We are glad we made that choice. The camping was not crowded and the views of the desert sun rises and sunsets were amazing.
Rockhouse Canyon and the broad alluvial plains drained by it are isolated and rarely visited in modern days. The Cahuilla Indians lived here for centuries before being moved to the Santa Road Indian Reservation in the early 1900s. After that a few hardy prospectors used the area, but because of the isolation of the area, it is a forgotten part of the California wilderness.
Because of the impact of vehicles on Clark Dry Lake’s delicate playa soil structure and the tiny fairy shrimp that lay dormant within, awaiting the next good rain, the Anza-Borrego Foundation has made it possible for protection to be in place. Anza-Borrego State Park has recently acquired private parcels of land in the Clark Dry Lake area and helped to reduce some of these harmful impacts.
By moving traffic onto park-owned land patrolled by rangers the impacts to this fragile desert can be controlled. Uncontrolled access to the area could also affect the fragile populations of the Le Conte’s Thrasher and the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard that live in this area. Once we saw the delicate nature of Clark Dry Lake and how car traffic destroys the natural habitat of these creatures, we were glad that the controls ha been put into place.
Rockhouse Canyon Road is a great shunpiking dirt road for exploring deeper into the Clark Dry Lake valley with its braided alluvial fans, and the Santa Rosa Mountains looming above. When Rockhouse Canyon Road is dry, you can drive it about five and a half miles to where a slope from Coyote Mountain descends almost to the road at survey marker Noll.
Beyond this point the sand can get soft and is best negotiated in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Of course, you likely won’t get even this far after a rain when the road is muddy. The soft soil of Clark Dry Lake is treacherous after a rain.
We headed out one afternoon intending to go all the way to Rockhouse Canyon, but only made it half way due to the time of day that we started. It is definitely an all day four-wheel drive trek.
We headed back at the sun was setting and admired some of the local flora along the way.
Back at camp we were treated to a glorious desert sunset. A perfect ending for great day in Rockhouse Canyon.
At mile marker 26.7 on Highway s-22 north-east of Borrego Springs turn north on Clark’s Well Road (also called Rockhouse Trail). The pavement soon ends and a well traveled gravel road begins.
Check out the video to see the road and some sights along the way.