Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Travel Guide

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    by malecon
  • Borrego Badlands
    Borrego Badlands
    by Echo_29
  • Ognini & Me
    Ognini & Me
    by Yubert

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Highlights

  • Pro
    zrim profile photo

    zrim says…


  • Con
    Echo_29 profile photo

    Echo_29 says…

     Need a 4 x 4 to fully explore the region 

  • In a nutshell
    DesertDarlene profile photo

    DesertDarlene says…

     If you want to get away for less, here's the place. 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Things to Do

  • Visit During Wildflower Season

    Look at our travelogue for wildflower examples. It is worth a trip out to Anza Borrego to see the park covered in colorful flowers. The season depends on rain and weather conditions. If favorable, flowers can start blooming in late January through late March.A good link to keep apprised with wildflower conditions in Anza Borrego is below. It is...

  • Campfire Talks

    During the weekends in the cooler part of the year, there are campfire talks at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. They usually start at 8pm on Saturday. But, check with the visitor's center for exact times that they start. They usually run from about October to April or May.At this event, park officials and volunteers teach facts about desert...

  • Kumeyaay Indian Kitchen

    This is where the Kumeyaay Indian's used to grind tyhe maze to make corn meal, as Ognini is demonstrating.

  • San Ysidro Mountains

    From Borrego Springs and the park headquarters, The San Ysidro Mountains loom up from Borrego Valley to the west. Dramatic shadows play across its surfaces in the evening light.

  • Get Up Early for the Sunrise

    The sunsets are rich in color and so are the sunrises. Different mountains light up with orange and pink light to the west.

  • View to Indian Head Mountain

    At the Anza Borrego State Park Headquarters the view out over Borrego Valley with the late afternoon light features an indian head profile cast on Indian Head Mountain to the north. The shadow creates the negative shape and on the right side, the sunlight makes the shape of a head. Look to the far right of our picture to find it.

  • Sunset from Anza Borrego Park...

    The view from the overlook at the visitors' center is easy to access from a car. It is the perfect spot to watch the shadows slide across Borrego Valley while Coyote Mountain and the Santa Rosa Mountains turn into the shades of the sunset. In the desert sunsets are more spectacular to the east as the light comes in at a low angle through the...

  • Santa Catarina Historical Marker

    This is the spot where Captain Juan Bautista de Anza's overland expedition camped on March 14, 1774. From monument text: This was "During the opening of the Anza Trail from Sonora into Alta California Anza's colonizing expedition of 1775. Consisting of 240 persons and over 800 head of livestock camped here the night of December 23." This marker...

  • Lower Willows from Santa Catarina...

    The view from this historical marker makes it pretty obvious why Juan Bautista de Anza chose this as a spot to relax in 1774. It probably still looks the same today. This is a good place to have a picnic lunch if you need a change of scenery from the desolate badlands.

  • Palm Oasis - Palm Wash

    In warmer months shade is at a premium. A picnic lunch stop should include a palm oasis for relief from the sun. Anza Borrego has at least 4 in the eastern edge of the park that are easily accessible off of dirt roads. 'Washingtonia Filifera' or the Desert Fan Palm is the only palm native to the western United States.

  • Five Palm Oasis

    Located at Five Palm Spring this lush spot has a great view overlooking the Badlands. The sound of the wind in the palms and the shade they provide makes for a nice resting spot. You have to park in the wash below and take a short hike up to the oasis.

  • First, stop in at the visitor's center

    The visitor's center is located about one mile west of the town of Borrego Springs. It is a first class facility. It is built into the hillside and is very ec-friendly. The staff and the park rangers are knowledgeable and can tell you where the wildflowers are blooming and which trails are interesting and accessible etc. I don't believe we would...


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Restaurants

  • Rusket's Profile Photo
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    by Rusket Updated Dec 14, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Del Taco was a new aquaintance for me, a chain of mexican fast food based on the Mac Donalds principles of serving. We had been driving through the South Californian desert, the sun was getting low, we were hungry and thirsty so I guessed everything would have tasted good at that moment. Unfortunately for us a bunch of school kids, apparently a band that had won some kind of a prize in a competition, stopped to eat there too, which made the line very long. But they did not have time to eat there, so as soon as they had all got their food, they took off and left us in relative silence.

    The food WAS good, and cheap, too.

    Favorite Dish: * more to come *

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip
    • Adventure Travel

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Nightlife

  • Dusty Sings the Classics

    by Echo_29 Updated Feb 11, 2005

    If sitting around a campfire isn't your idea of an exciting Saturday night, drive into Borrego Springs and drop into Carlee's for some good food, ice cold beer or a cocktail and sit back to for some excellent people watching. The local retired regulars have no shyness for getting up and singing classic songs to the crowd. Look for the ubiquitous Dusty, a retired lawyer, sitting at the bar with an unlit cigar between his fingers at all times. He does a mean Elvis Karaoke! We have also witnessed a group of retiree ladies shamelessly flirting with a young, handsome tourist sitting with his girlfriend at the bar. They actually made him blush!

    Dress Code: Desert hiking-utility casual for the tourists. The locals are dressed in golf shirts with pressed khakis for the men and pearls and bright floral prints for the women.

    Related to:
    • Music
    • National/State Park
    • Desert

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Transportation

  • Virtually no public transport

    This town has a bus stop, but virtually no bus service. You almost certainly have to travel here by private car or plane (unless you're a hardy one that can ride your bike or horse here). There is a car rental place, last time I checked, and you can probably order a cab at great expense, but forget about the bus unless you have to.There is...

  • 4 Wheel Drive Recommended, but not...

    A 4 wheel drive vehicle would be your best way to get around the park if you do not plan to hike, ride a bike, or go on horseback. However, a passenger car can be used to get around to certain areas of the park. But, you will actually miss out of some interesting features of the area that are only accessible via rough or sandy roads and trails. At...

  • A Car Can Make it Some Places

    Coyote Canyon is accessible in a car if you take it slowly on the graded dirt road. There are three water crossings through Coyote Creek that can hamper making it more than 4 miles up the canyon. Many cars can make the first shallow water crossing and then there is a parking area at the second crossing where you can park and continue up the canyon...


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Shopping

  • Desert Shopping Opportunity

    It was the only store around for miles but supplies were low when we called there - just a few apples, oranges, bottled water and choc bars.

  • Great Park Related Items

    This is the park's headquarters. There you can buy many park-related items that you wouldn't find anywhere else. There are books on nature watching as well as Borrego history. There are also t-shirts, fine art prints, guidebooks, maps, posters, bandanas, hats, and several other items. Most items are affordable. You can even find things for a...

  • Gifts, Books and Art for a Good Cause

    A nonprofit organization runs this great store in downtown Borrego Springs. Friendly staff to help answer questions about the region and help you find unique quality items to bring home. First, purchase a membership for your 15% discount. Then buy from their extensive collection of desert themed books, children's toys, original art and prints,...


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Howling wild coyotes...

    At night, the wild coyotes come out to sing. The chorus entertained Ognini and Fatima. Note the scared looks on their faces!

  • Beware of Flash Floods

    Those beautiful deep canyons are carved by water. Water from flash floods. If you look at the watermarks along the canyon walls you will see this is a place to avoid in a rainstorm or if one is approaching. Be current with the weather report during your stay.

  • Rains Can Make Canyon Walls collaspe

    During and after heavy rains the mud canyons steep walls can come down and block your way or worse. It is best to avoid the badland area washes and canyons if you think there is a chance of the ground being saturated.Check at the visitors center for current information on the trail conditions.


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Pies like Momma used to bake!

    If you are making your way from a town on the coast to the Anza. Borrego Desert it is highly likely you will pass through the little town of Julian. Do stop and have a look around. This old gold mining town in the middle of fruit tree growing country has diversified! There are museums and antique shops; B&B's, tea shops AND the Julian Pie Shop.We...

  • Desert Banking

    I couldn't resist this - spotted at a cross roads in the desert so no fear of running out of cash on this trip!

  • Alternative to Palm Canyon

    This is an alternative to hiking busy Palm Canyon Trail. This trail, called Hellhole Canyon is a little more difficult, but more seculded. Nonetheless, there are a couple of large palm groves at the end of the trail.The trail climbs in elevation about 900 feet and gets rough for the last 1/2 mile or so. I wouldn't recommend this part of the trail...


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Explore Deeper into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
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Warnings and Dangers
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Map of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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