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Rarely does the splendor of a particular place’s natural beauty live up to its hype. El Cajon Canyon, however, is a rare exception. Tucked inside three to four hundred foot walls on two sides, nestled among peaks, rock formations, small mountains, cliffs and giant size boulders, El Cajon is a sight to behold. The natural scenery of this location cannot be adequately defined in words, photos or videos; it must be experienced first-hand, allowing the senses to absorb the magnificence of a canyon carved by weather, erosion, wind, water and time. El Cajon is truly one of Nature’s works of art, a masterpiece that like fine wine, only gets better with age. In El Cajon, Nature’s powers have achieved a kind of perfection that must be experienced by all five senses. Hiking El Cajon will stimulate all your senses, it will challenge you both physically and mentally, and it will captivate you in many different ways.

Located less than 100 feet from Rancho Los Baños’ base camp, El Cajon is a living riparian/river bed habitat that boasts an impressive array of mature trees. From sycamore, birch and mesquite to scrub oak, maple, walnut, and palm trees, the assortment of trees enveloping virtually the entire canyon is impressive, a perfect habitat to a diverse potpourri of bird, animal and plant species. If the season is right, a hiker can walk in a tree-filled canopy of green for long stretches; if she is visiting in Spring and Summer, the Elegant Trogon and the Vermilion Flycatcher can easily be seen. If she is here during the Fall, the changing colors of the leaves will surely captivate, adding beauty to an already majestic hike. If desired, you will deviate away from the main canyon to explore incredible slot canyons, some with ecosystems that exist only within their walls. The slot canyons offer additional adventures, including thrilling bouldering upwards towards fascinating caverns tucked inside ever-thinning canyon walls.

Highlights of a hike through El Cajon Canyon

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Hiking through El Cajon is a mental, physical and spiritual experience. Its all-encompassing beauty, visible wherever the eye decides to gaze, allows one to relax and feel reinvigorated. Its pure, sweet oxygen penetrates your lungs and reenergizes you, taking away your stresses and worries, instead transporting you thousands of years back in time, for El Cajon has changed little since then. The relaxing echoes of nature will be all you hear, and you will be only one of a few hundred to have ever walked within its walls.  Whether only walking a short distance inside or whether you are in for the full five or six hour adventure, anxious to tackle challenging and stimulating hiking along the way, the canyon offers wonders for everybody who steps inside.

El Cajon can be serene and it can be challenging; it can be peaceful or adrenaline-pumping. It can be a birder’s paradise or a hiker’s dream. One thing is for certain, however. It is Nature at its very best. With sections of the river bed sprouting streams of crystal-clear spring water, with natural-made pools of water helping to make hiking an adventure, with giant boulders strewn about, with a riparian habitat and temperatures that feel more tropical than desert-like, with a diversity of flora and fauna, with canyon walls that stretch towards the heavens and with scenery that is inspiring and breathtaking, El Cajon is both a natural masterpiece and a spectacle to behold, offering something amazing at every turn.

Rancho Los Banos crown jewel, El Cajon Canyon

Also located inside the canyon are ancient Native American pictographs and dwellings dating back 2,000 years. These paintings, works of art in their own right, are testament to a time long before the arrival of Europeans, when the ancients called El Cajon home. The paintings are located inside a large cave structure known as the Cueva Pinta, or Painted Cave, comprised of three levels, one on top of another, with the third being 250 feet above the river bed below. These shelters were carved naturally into the canyon’s walls through erosion and weathering in what must have taken hundreds of thousands of years to accomplish.

The pictographs have withstood the test of time, with those protected by the larger cave in the river bed better preserved than those more exposed to the elements. All these paintings, however, allow us to peer into the lives of these people, to what life must have been like in the canyon 2,000 years ago. The Cueva Pinta complex is a must see for any history, archeology and anthropology enthusiast. Accessible from both entrances to the canyon, either from the challenging yet more scenic hike or from the less arduous river bed walk, these paintings and their cave structure are one of the ranch’s cherished treasures, a set of jewels inside a wonderful treasure chest.

Highlights of a hike through El Cajon Canyon

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El Cajon is sure to leave you with long-lasting memories. It will surely leave your camera full of images. Whether birding and spotting the Elegant Trogon, hiking and seeing a large group of coatimundi or the occasional puma, jaguar or black bear passing through, or whether you spot an eagle or hawk or turkey vulture gliding in the canyon’s pockets of wind, El Cajon will feel alive with the energy of a living and unique ecosystem. Boxed inside this canyon, you will feel a world away from modernity, travelling back in time. Here, there is so much to explore, and so much yet to be discovered. The canyon and its many arteries and side canyons, full of beauty and splendor, magic and mystique, will leave an indelible mark in your mind. El Cajon Canyon is an experience you will not regret, and one you will not soon forget.

We hope to see you soon! El Cajon Canyon and Rancho Los Baños await your arrival. Your canyon adventure is just around the corner.

Copyright ©2016 - Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures

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