Perched on the butte above the Seco del Diablo overlooking the Carrizo Badlands in the southeastern corner of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego are the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. Formed more than five million years ago, there are 22 caves and nine slot canyons in what is recognized as one of the world’s largest mud cave systems.
Many of the caves are difficult to locate but like all adventures, the reward is found at the end of the quest. One cave’s roof looms 80 feet above the floor and another actually has a second level. Others are bat havens or spectacularly speckled with light filtering in from natural skylights piercing the cave’s roof. Experienced cavers advise visitors to don a headlamp, helmet and kneepads and to NOT climb on top of the caves as mud roofs DO collapse. Also, mountain lions have been found sleeping in the caves, therefore, extreme caution is advised.