In The Desert
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Ladder & Box Canyon
Ladder Canyon and Box canyon are perfect day trips in the desert if you're staying in or near Indio, or Palm Springs, California. We've also included a short side trip down to the water at the Salton Sea. The Garmin GPS track included here is for Ladder Canyon, and Box Canyon, not the Salton Sea.
Download Garmin GPS topo track.
Getting into Ladder Canyon requires that you pass through Painted Canyon on Painted Canyon road. The photo here shows how it got it's name. This highly mineralized area of the canyon that eveyone photographs is only a narrow section of the canyon (both sides).
There are some other pretty areas in the canyon with light and dark shades of rock. This road is easily traveled in a 2 wheel drive vehicle. Your sure to run into other travelers in the desert here. This is a popular spot for hikers.
After you park in the parking area at the end of the road you'll hike a short distance up the canyon till you see this small, steep, and narrow trail into Ladder Canyon. You can just barely see the entrance, and some people miss it! It's not too bad a climb over this secction but then it gets a little worst.
This photo was given to us by a friend that made the climb into Ladder Canyon. We did not make it that far. This shows the old ladders that were in place here and are now replaced by the newer aluminum ladders. There is a loop hike once you get to the top of Ladder Canyon and you'll end up back in the main Canyon.
This is an inter-active Maps.google Satellite Map. You can zoom in / out and change the formats to Street Map or Terrain; drag the map to scroll. Try it! Shown here --Laddery Canyon and Box Canyon.
Don't forget to try the map in Satellite/ Earth view for better look.
Once you leave Painted Canyon you can go back to Indio or Palm Springs or take another one of our short day trips up Box Canyon. This is pretty drive up a paved road with a few side roads for people who want to get off road. See below.
Once you get over high point in the mountains look for this kiosk which is the entrance to Little Box Canyon. A 4 wheel drive road -- we never had to use 4 wheel drive but the road conditions could change at any time, so heed the sign.
You can just barely see our 4X4 in the Canyon here. A lot of the trip here in the desert is just like what you see here. Some placers are a little narow, so if your worried about getting it scratched up then don't take this side trip.
This is probably the worst part of the trip into Little Box Canyon right here. It wasn't that steep; it was full of rock that couldn't be moved. You need fairly high ground clearance to navigate this section of the trail.
So now that your back on Rt. 111 -- if you went back the way you came in? You should really take a look at the Salton Sea and the wildlife that resides there; mostly birds. We headed South on Rt.111 and took a drive out to an old launching ramp. At one time this was a pretty popular place, judging by all the old buildings still standing. They are all in great dis-repair now.
This was a terrible day to photograph anything down near the water. I was so windy that a tripod was a waste of time; and there was also a terrible haze hanging over the water so I hid behind the Cruiser and got a few snapshots. Here's 3 pelicans. There was a lot them here, mostly white pelicans.
You can see how rough the water was on the day we were here. It didn't seem to bother the birds a bit though.
There was a lot shore birds and seagulls all along the beach here. And a load of pelicans too. The beach here was litterly covered with barnacles! That's right, you read it right. Wonder where they came from. I mean the beach in places was solid with them.
And also there was a lot of dead fish here on the beach. Is the water here polluted? Is it natural chemicals from the upwelling of water and mud from this area being geothermal? I don't know but it's a continual thing here to see massive fish die offs. Still something you shouldn't miss if your staying in Indio, or Palm Springs.
Have fun -------
Ladder canyon is well known and you shouldn't have any difficulty finding it. Box Canyon is also easy to find. The Salton Sea is still a nighmare of pollution and farm run-off and you want to avoid it. Shame as it use to be a great place to vacation.