Monday, November 30, 2009

The Grottos, Mecca Hills Wilderness Area


The Grottos are a special area in the Mecca Hills Wilderness area where the erosion of steep mud and rock canyons have created cave-like formations. They are a fun area to explore due to the nature of the grottos themselves and the beauty of the surrounding canyons. They are reached from Box Canyon Road leaving the town of Mecca, near the Salton Sea.

There is a good parking area and a nice BLM sign pointing out some of the natural features of the Grottos area.

Hiking from the sign, you will see some trails heading up the hill to the right of the wash. This steep trail is not the official trail but I like it better anyway.

From the trail into the Grottos you get a nice view of the Salton Sea.

After a short hike of a couple miles you come to this canyon, the entrance to the Hidden Palm Oasis.

The oasis is listed on your topo map and is a very important source of water for wildlife in this area.

It's also good for thirsty puppies.

The walls of the canyon are multi-colored due to mineralization.

Hiking further up the canyon there are more places with interesting colors and shapes. My favorite is the rock "foam finger". You almost expect it to say, "We're #1" on it.

But even more interesting than these rock formations is this crease in the hillside.

Once inside you have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through this little gap.

Once inside you have to have a flashlight or headlamp because it's DARK. The cavern goes back a hundred feet or so before any outside light is even visible again.

But this is not the way out.

The way out requires some climbing and some squeezing and crawling and a few other things that Kahlua really isn't up to today. There is a nice loop trip from the top of this Grotto that comes down into yet another Grotto but I'll just have to leave that for another day.

Today I'll just content myself with going out the way we came and enjoying the hike out.

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