Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves

Arroyo Tapiado and the entire Carrizo Badlands are among the most fascinating places in the southern part of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The variety of the landscape there is incredible, and the mud caves in Arroyo Tapiado are one of the most unique features. They are Pseudokarst caves, which are, unlike real Karst, formed by slow erosion instead of dissolution. Some estimates say that they may be up to 15000 years old.

I’ve been to the area a number of times now, and also photographed two of the biggest caves: Chasm Cave, and Carey’s Big Mud Cave (named after Dwight Carey, one of the first to explore, map and name the caves for a research thesis, in 1975-76). With a wide angle lens and an external flash (that I sometimes just held in my hand, at other times placed around a corner and triggered remotely), I was able to capture some images that I like enough to share them with the public.


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