Anza-Borrego Desert Park, CA

We left Desert Hot Springs and went south along the west side of the Salton Sea to Borrego Springs. A mile and a half outside of town is the entrance to the Palm Canyon Campground in Anza-Borrego Desert Park. The park is located on the western side of the Colorado Desert and is California’s largest state park, about the size of Rhode Island.

Site 5

Biking is limited but there is plenty of hiking to be had. We started by heading down Coyote Canyon to hike the Desert Garden. Be assured that there is no garden to tour along this trail.

We did get some nice views of Coyote Canyon

The Ranger at the Park Visitor Center suggested we try Little Surprise Canyon, a short ride from the Park.

The hike gave us a good view of the trail to Hell Hole Canyon

Whenever we travel we encourage friends and family to meet up with us. It is rare that anyone ever takes us up on the offer. This trip Shelly’s cousin Marlene and her husband Lee met up with us for a weekend of desert fun.

Lee and Marlene with their tricked out Sprinter Van, designed and built by Lee

On their first day in camp we hiked the Outlook Trail.

From the top of the trail you get a fine view of the campground and surrounding desert

The Palm Canyon hike is very popular. You hike one and a half miles up the canyon to a palm oasis. In years past you were allowed into the Palm oasis but since it burned three years ago that is not allowed. The trail has been rerouted to a view point above the oasis.

Courtesy of Marlene, a rare photo of us in the same frame
The palms are coming back strong
It’s always amazing to see running water in the desert
After the fire all that was left of these palms were burnt trunks

The canyon is home to a herd of Peninsular Big Horn Sheep. Everyone hiking the canyon hopes to get a glimpse of them. As we hiked into the canyon we saw three sheep silhouetted high on a ridge. They were too far away to get a decent photo. Descending the trail we chose an alternate trail but soon lost our way. After scrambling over boulders we found ourselves in a small meadow face to face with this guy.

Other family members

Marlene and Lee left for home after two days of camping with us. Before they left we checked out Galleta Meadows Estate. The Estate consists of privately owned plots of land with metal sculptures scattered throughout the properties. The sculptures were created but Ricardo Breceda. The work was commissioned by Dennis Avery, the owner of Galleta Meadows.

Tamarisk Campground is a small primitive camp just over Yaqui pass. We didn’t camp there but drove over one morning to hike the cactus loop trail.

The rocky trail offers numerous opportunities to checkout a variety of desert flora
Fish Hook Cactus
Englemann’s Hedge Hog Cactus
Teddy Bear or Jumping Cholla
Heading down the Cactus Loop

Our drive home took us back through Yaqui Pass. As we neared the summit we stopped to hike the William Kenyon Overlook Trail for an expansive view of the San Filipe Wash.

On our last day in the park we connected with Paul and Susanne who were staying in a park near us. We arranged to meet at the entrance to Blair Valley for some hiking.

Ready to hike the Pictograph Trail
The trail meanders through the boulders to Smugglers Outlook
Image courtesy of Susanne
The pictographs

We finished the hike and decided to try one more short hike before parting ways.

Pat and Susanne along the Morteros Trail
Shelly and Paul

The trail gets its name from the numerous morteros along the trail. Mortero is Spanish for mortar . These “bedrock holes” were created by the Kumeyaay people who lived here a thousand years ago. Think of the morteros as stone food processors.

The smaller depressions are called cupules
At the end of the trail we found one more pictograph

We’ve had a wonderful time here in Southern California but it’s time to move on. Arizona and the Sonoran Desert beckons. But one more look at Palm Canyon as you descend along the Alternative Trail.

10 thoughts on “Anza-Borrego Desert Park, CA”

  1. Probably my favorite place to camp. The Oasis was well when we were there in 2019 I think. Great hiking.
    The Vallecito Stage is really cool history as well as box canyon.


    1. Love the sculptures and the beautiful oasis! Such colors! Never been to Palm Springs, maybe another spring trip for us. We love to take South Western to AZ, west areas. Have fun and happy trails! Lots of good snow again here today. Enjoying our skiing! Joanne


  2. Such a beautiful place, and your photos are wonderful! We spent many winters in Anza Borrego when we were living in Ashland. Have you guys been to Ghost Mountain? It’s a very special place in the park and quite a unique story. There’s a link on our blog if you’re interested.


  3. It’s really good to see a photo of the two of you together! Thanks for the detailed descriptions . What a lovely dramatic sky photo. At least we have sun today and perhaps we can watch some snow melt!


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