Anza Borrego State Park: A Southern California Gem
Updated: May 29
Anza Borrego State Park Is a place we visit 2 or 3 times a year. It is a vast and beautiful natural oasis located in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. It is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors. One of the most popular campgrounds within the park is Palm Canyon Campground, where my family and I have had the pleasure of camping annually for many years. When camping with the family we stay in the dry camping part of the campground with most of the sites in a central location however there are some spread out around the area.
We also camp with friends at Palm Canyon's RV hookup sites. This is with the group of friends that we camp with annually at Huntington Lake in the Sierra Nevada.
We have also camped at the Arroyo Salado campground. This is a primitive camping area with a vault toilet. It is accessed by a dirt/sandy road that is passable by regular autos. You are asked to use an area that has been used before to minimize damage to the area. In most spots you will not even be able to see another camper.
One of the highlights of our trips to Anza Borrego has been hiking through Palm Canyon, up to the palm oasis. It is an awesome hike with beautiful cacti and ocotillo. This is the hike where we have seen the most bighorn sheep. Pick up a pamphlet at the start that has descriptions for the numbered markers on the way. From the trailhead start up the main trail and cross over a wash a few times and you eventually come to a junction for an alternate trail that you can take on your return trip for some different scenery. About a third of a mile past the junction you will arrive at the palm grove.
There are other hikes in the area and 2 others that we enjoy are the Slot Canyon and panorama Hill. To get to the Slot Canyon Hike take Highway 78 and look for a sign that says Buttes Pass. The road is 2 miles long and is passable by standard vehicles. There are 2 ways to do the hike. There is a 4 mile loop or a shorter out an back through the slot. We opt for the short version.
The Panorama Trail is located at the west end of the Palm Canyon Campground and has views of the entrance to Palm Canyon, the campground, and surrounding areas over to the Visitors center.
We like to drive around Galleta Meadows to see the metal sculptures at various locations. They are mainly located in 2 areas on Borrego Springs Road north of town and south of town. There are dozens of them and here are a few.
Fonts Point is a great location for sunrise and sunset photos and views.
People will bring chairs and blankets and watch the sunset while enjoying a favorite beverage. It is accessed from a dirt road off of S22. It mainly follows a sandy wash for 4 miles and a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
The stunning wildflowers that bloom in the desert each spring are a real treat, especially when there is a super bloom. These super blooms are associated with unusually wet rainy seasons. We did have a wet rainy season this year 2022-2023 and there were some flowers there in January so we are hoping for a good showing of flowers in March when we are camping with the family.
In addition to these activities, we have also taken the opportunity to capture some nighttime photos at the pumpkin patch area, which is known for its surreal and otherworldly atmosphere. These are round concretions that have emerged from the sand over time. You need to take care that you don’t damage them when visiting. There are dirt roads getting there with a parking area and a restroom. We spent one night there taking some photos. We were the only ones there so we didn't have to worry about other people interfering. Here again, I used my gel filters and a strobe to light the pumpkins with green and orange light. I then set the intervalometer and took some star trail photos and put them all together in photoshop at home.
There is a viewpoint off of the Hellhole Palms hike with amazing looks down into Borrego Springs and the State Park. This is on the western edge of the park before you drop down into the desert. 4 miles east of Ranchita look for a sign for Culp Valley Campground. Take the dirt road and go past the campground to a small parking area and follow the trail up along a ridge.
Several years ago, my daughter Jennifer and her family gifted me a set of golf clubs for Father's Day. Despite never having hit a golf ball before, I was drawn to the idea of playing the sport as I enjoyed being outdoors. I began taking lessons and practicing at the driving range, slowly improving my technique until I could consistently hit the ball in the air.
Eventually, my grandson Tyler invited me to play a round of golf at Riverwalk in San Diego. Tyler was able to drive the ball 300 yards off the white tees, while my drives only reached 160 yards from the red tees. Nevertheless, we had a great time on the course and managed to finish the round.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to play golf with Tyler a few more times, as well as with my son-in-law and my son.
I have enjoyed playing golf with friends at the Borrego Springs Resort which is a 9-hole course that you play twice for the 18 holes and The De Anza Country Club which has bighorn sheep on the fairways at times. It is something I look forward to on our trips out to Borrego. When going just out to Borrego Springs I just load my clubs in the trailer but I am looking at travel bags for our longer trips to haul the clubs in the back of the truck. A couple I'm looking at are a hard case by samsonite and a soft case by Himal. I think the hard one might be overkill for me but I would hate to damage the clubs.
We also like indulging in delicious dinners at the Rams Head Country Club.
Overall, Anza Borrego State Park is a don’t-miss camping place that offers something for everyone and holds a special place in our hearts.
Lorna’s Tips and Lessons
It has been a fun experience for our regular camping group to have a personalized camp flag. The inspiration came from one of our friends whose grandmother was part of a camp group named the "Camping Gypsies." We decided to adopt the name and create our own unique twist by featuring Chuck, our cat, as the group's mascot. Our customized camp flags depict Chuck dressed as a gypsy, which adds a playful and personalized touch to our campsite.