North Fork Palm Wash

Total Miles


195.12 ft


1.5 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Trail Overview

North Fork Palm Wash is an 8.8-mile out-and-back trail rated 3 of 10 within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. North Palm Wash extends from the Santa Rosa Mountains and flows eastward through the Truckhaven section of ABDSP and into the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area to the Salton Sea. In the mountains, Palm Wash is narrow, rocky, and for hikers only. As the wash flows eastward toward the Salton Sea, it widens and attracts motorists with 4-wheel drive vehicles. North Fork Palm Wash is located within both the ABDSP and Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreational Area and flows to a confluence with South Palm Wash and Palm Wash. The trail is accessible at the confluence with Palm Wash and there are trail markers designating the boundary between the SVRA and the state park. The North Fork of Palm Wash is known for its sheep tanks (not to be confused with the Natural Sheep Tanks in Smoke Tree Canyon) as well as Cronies Palm Pole, a man-made attraction built by one of the local off-road clubs. Don't expect to get cell phone service while in the wash. The nearest services are located in Borrego Springs to the west or Salton City to the east.

Photos of North Fork Palm Wash

North Fork Palm Wash
North Fork Palm Wash
North Fork Palm Wash


The trail consists of loose rocks, dirt, and sand with some slick rock surfaces and mud holes possible. No steps are higher than 12 inches. 4WD may be required, and aggressive tires are a plus.


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, which literally means "lamb" but is also used to describe the desert bighorn sheep. With nearly 600,000 acres, it is the largest state park in California as well as the 48 contiguous states. The park has varied topography that includes dry lake beds, badlands, and mountains that rise above 5,500 feet (1,675 meters). Two-thirds of the park's area is designated as wilderness, and cactus, yucca, and ocotillo are abundant throughout. Among the park's attractions are groves of California fan palms and a profusion of wildflowers that bloom in mid-to-late winter. Deer, kit foxes, iguanas, rattlesnakes, roadrunners, eagles, and the endangered desert bighorn sheep are all found within the park.

Technical Rating


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