I learned how to off road this weekend!!! This was a miracle because I’m not known as being a good driver, in fact I’m known for being the complete opposite. But that’s okay because I didn’t crash or flip the Jeep! My boyfriend has been off roading since he was a kid and wanted to share the fun of driving trails with me. We decided that Ocotillo Wells was the perfect place for me to experience my first off roading weekend.
Ocotilla Wells is a State Vehicular Recreational Area in California. The desert was originally an ocean millions of years ago and due to this there are many places you can go to see fossils and cool stone structures. The off road trails are all clearly marked with street signs and there are bathrooms throughout the park (major plus). There is also an ATV Training Track and a 4×4 Training area. It was a great place, and had lots of fun places to drive and cool things to see. I definitely recommend starting your trip at the Discovery Center.
There are friendly Park Rangers there who can give you maps and there is an awesome fossil display! They even had a Megalodon Tooth that was found in Ocotillo (WHaaaaaaat??? So Cool!).
Background on our Jeep Cherokee:
Our 1990 Jeep Cherokee is a project off road car. Brandon originally bought it stock from a neighbor who is a close family friend. Since then he has added a 3 1/2 inch Rubicon Express lift kit, and upgraded to Hercules all Terrain Tires. The goal is to eventually have a 7.5 inch lift with Diana 60’s on 42 inch Tires (its okay if you don’t know what any of that means cuz I don’t know either, like I said, I’m new to off roading and all this car stuff is like a foreign language).
Sights to See:
- Shell Reef: Shell Reef is a five foot thick bed of fossilized rocks that is the remnant of an ancient sea shore from 4 million years ago. The fossilized reef contains oysters, clams, and scallops. Shell Reef was our first stop of the day after setting up camp. It was really cool getting to see all the fossils.
- Pumpkin Patch: The Pumpkin Patch was our second stop of the day. The pumpkin patch is a large group of pumpkin-sized features that are called “concretions” that are formed by loose sand cementing around a particle of sand, pebble, or shell. They looked like round boulders but it was fun getting to see them all together.
Off Road Trails:
- Cross Over Trail (Moderate Difficulty)- Narrow at points while traversing terrain.
- Freedom Trail (Easy Difficulty)- Sandy in spots, primarily hard packed trail with hilly terrain.
- Tule Wash (Easy Difficulty)- Sandy, rocky and windey terrain.
We ended up camping off County Line Road. The nice thing is that in most of the park you can pull off any trail/road and camp where ever you want. Just be careful where you park so that your vehicle doesn’t get stuck. (That wouldn’t be a fun start to your weekend.)
Our first day at Ocotillo Wells was so much fun! It was fun getting to see all of the cool rock formations and learn how to drive in washes. Check out my next article Off Roading in Ocotillo Wells Day 2 to learn more about the off roading trails in Ocotillo. Thanks for reading and Happy Travels!