Ocotillo Wells
A 4x4 truck at the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area
Ocotillo Wells
Ocotillo Wells
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 33°08′40″N 116°08′03″W / 33.14444°N 116.13417°W / 33.14444; -116.13417Coordinates: 33°08′40″N 116°08′03″W / 33.14444°N 116.13417°W / 33.14444; -116.13417
Country United States
State California
County San Diego
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)760

Ocotillo Wells is an unincorporated community in San Diego County, California, United States. It is 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the Imperial County line on California State Route 78 at an elevation of 163 feet (50 m). The name became official in 1962 when it was adopted for federal use by the US Board on Geographic Names. A federally recognized variant name, Ocotillo, can cause confusion with the community of Ocotillo, California in Imperial County, 29 mi (47 km) to the south on Interstate 8.

The ZIP Code is 92004 and the community is in area code 760. The number prefix for wired telephones is 767, which is shared with Borrego Springs.

Local landmarks

Ocotillo Wells County Airport has two dirt runways.[1] Runway extents are marked by white paving blocks. The Los Puertecitos Historic Site is on California State Route 78 about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of the community.[2] Gasoline is available in Borrego Springs (17 mi or 27 km west), in Westmorland (18 mi or 29 km east) and at the Blu-In Cafe (3 mi or 4.8 km east). Gas may not always be available the Blu-In Cafe which, besides the gas station, operates a restaurant, store, and RV park. Gas has not been available at the Blu-In since 2011.[citation needed]

Several other small businesses sell off-road accessories and rent all-terrain vehicles. Most businesses in the area are closed during the summer months. My Desert Rose, which was a traditional restaurant located at the intersection of State Route 78 and Split Mountain Road, burned down in 2008.[citation needed]

Iron Door bar and restaurant
Iron Door bar and restaurant
Letterboxes in the desert near Ocotillo Wells
Letterboxes in the desert near Ocotillo Wells

The Split Mountain Store and the Iron Door are located about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of State Route 78 on Split Mountain Road. Both of these businesses are open part-time during the summer and full-time during the cooler months. The Split Mountain Store stocks groceries, beer, and parts for sand buggies and trucks. The Iron Door, a small bar, has a private club, two pool tables and serves beer, wine and some food. Local artifacts are on display in the bar, where several layers of decorated dollar bills are stapled to the walls.[relevant?]


There are no schools in Ocotillo Wells. The community is served by the Borrego Springs Unified School District.[citation needed]

Blowsand is a popular attraction at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area
Blowsand is a popular attraction at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area

Off-road recreation

The California Department of Parks and Recreation operates the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area which borders the community. This off-road vehicle area is part of the department's Southern Division, Ocotillo Wells District which is headquartered in Borrego Springs.[3]

Free camping is available at numerous locations along State Route 78. The most popular of these are Main Street, Holmes Camp, County Line Road, and Pole Line Road. Each of these areas have ample access to numerous trails that provide a challenge to riders of all skill levels. Any vehicle with a license plate or off-road registration is able to operate in the park.[citation needed]

Natural features in the park include:

A map of these locations as well as numerous other trails is available at the ranger station.

Jumps at Shell Reef
Jumps at Shell Reef

Military plane crashes in 2020

On 29 September 2020, around 4:00 PM, a US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B fighter aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with a USMC KC-130J tanker during an aerial refueling exercise.[4] The F-35B crashed near Ocotillo Wells in front of civilian onlookers who recorded the impact, with its pilot able to eject safely.[5] The KC-130J made an emergency wheels-up landing in an agricultural field near Thermal, California, with all eight crew members surviving.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ "Ocotillo Airport (L90) Information". Airport-Data.com.
  2. ^ "Borrego Mountain, California", 7.5-minute quadrangle (map), US Geological Survey, 1960.
  3. ^ "Parks and Recreation, Department of", State of California 1998 Telephone Directory, (Sacramento, California: Department of General Services, 1998).
  4. ^ Martinez, Luis (2020-09-29). "Marine F-35 jet crashes after clipping wings with refueling plane". ABC News. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  5. ^ Trevithick, Joseph (2020-09-30). "Video Emerges Of Marine F-35B Crashing In A Ball Of Fire After Colliding With A KC-130J". The Drive. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  6. ^ LaGrone, Sam (2020-09-30). "Marine F-35B Crashes After Collision With KC-130 Over California; All Aircrew Recovered Safely". US Naval Institute News. Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  7. ^ Unfall über US-Wüste : Kampfjet stürzt nach Kollision mit Tankflugzeug ab krone.at, 2020-10-03, German