Like most people, I had heard the term “badlands” before visiting Fonts Point, but I had no visual notion of it in my head. Badlands are actually a very distinctive landform and remind me of something out of Dante’s Inferno. The brownish red hills are devoid of all vegetation. Being so dry and rootless, when the rain comes in torrents every five years or so it carves grooves into the sides, flowing in several directions. With each rainfall and the daily winds these grooves deepen further, making the distinct scraggly look the Badlands hills are known for.
For this trip, I recommend that you take a Jeep or another 4WD or AWD vehicle. A Subaru should be fine to get to the overlook, but if you don’t want to do any additional exploring you might need a Jeep or truck.
There is a hiking option, but it’s through a dry, dusty, flat, region with no vegetation or sights (and no shortage of sun)—so unless you really want to get some exercise, driving is preferred.
Getting to Fonts Point is easy. Take the S-22 (Borrego Salton Sea Seaway) out of town going east. When you get past the campgrounds and the small edge of the Santa Rosa mountains just to the north, keep a lookout on your right (south) for the Font’s Point Wash dirt road. It’s approximately here on Google Maps. Take the dirt road 4 miles to Fonts Point.
The overlook is, well, spectacular for someone who has never seen anything like it.
Beyond this, there are numerous Jeep drives you can take through the region, including the Palo Verde Wash, Vista Del Malpais, and Thimble Trail. But make sure you bring plenty of gas and water!