Elephant Knees and the adjacent wind caves are a landmark of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, in the less popular Fish Creek/Split Mountain area – less popular because a four mile drive on a dirt “road” through a wash is necessary to even get there.
If the wash hasn’t been ravaged too badly by summer flash floods, it can be possible to even get there with a normal passenger car – I’ve seen people do it, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. High clearance at the very least is necessary most often, and 4-wheel drive as well, depending on the condition of the wash – you’ll never know…
The formation known as “Elephant Knees” are fossil reefs that rise out of the surrounding mud hills. Plenty of fossilized shells can be found all around. The name “Elephant Knees” comes from the shape of the mud layer beneath the fossils, which kinda-sorta looks like an elephant’s knees… if you want to. :)
Joe and I hiked up to the wind caves and then into Mud Hills Wash, following the description by Jerry Schad in the “Afood & Afield in San Diego County” hiking guide. We started late and stuck around until sunset – which also meant navigating Fish Creek Wash back out through Split Mountain in the dark, and that can be surprisingly confusing. As you read this though, you know we made it back home, and I hope you like the photos. :)
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