The Borrego Badlands
are a vast region of mud, clay and sandstone hills in the northeast
of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and may be viewed from a distance along parts of the two main roads S22 and CA 78, but for a close-up look, the shortest route is the Thimble Trail
- 2 miles to the edge of the formations or 3.5 miles to Mal Pais Vista
, an elevated, more central viewpoint. The trail is actually a vehicle track, mostly flat though not suitable for 2WD cars as some parts have soft sand, including one section up a steepish ridge quite near the start.
The trail begins along S22 (south side), 14.5 miles west of Hwy 86 in Salton City, and is marked by a small sign. Non 4WD vehicles may be left at a small parking area by the main road. A round trip walk to the first overlook takes about 2.5 hours, across gently rolling ground mostly covered in whitish sand with just a few exposed rocks and not much vegetation - landscape on a rather smaller scale than the grand Santa Rosa Mountains that rise sharply to the north. After 2 miles, the track divides at a T junction; straight ahead the land rises to a low ridge, far side of which stretch the barren hills and ravines of the badlands - a great expanse of grey, red, black and brown colored earth. Mal Pais Vista is reached by following the left fork of the track, right at another junction after 1 mile then a little way further to the roads end. The other branch eventually returns to the highway, after one more junction with a track to Fonts Point, another high promontory overlooking the badlands.