The predominate must see in Ocotillo is the landscape. On the surface it seems desolate, but on closer inspection this rocky version is teeming with life and in the spring time the contrast between the rocky landscape and vibrant color of blooming flowers can be quite impressive. Beyond this point is a place called Borego Badlands and four million years of geologic and paleontologic history can be seen. There are seven new Cultural Preserves to be seen, which includes pictographs, as well as miles and miles of hiking trails.
Most impressive to me was the vast distance that can be seen from the hills. I couldn't even estimate the miles of rocky desert that I've seen from a viewing spot..
The history of Desert View Tower is a testament to the spirit, inspiration and imagination that can come out of such a barren, desolate place.
The hot and cold springs that are found in this area are probably the catalyst for the attention and settlement of one part of the desert over another.
Jacumba is a very small town that had once been a popular and posh springs resort--something like Palm Springs today on a smaller scale. The resort owner of Jacumba, Bert Vaughn, was a man inspired. To honor the pioneers who risked their life to travel over this long stretch of desert and the railroad builders who worked to make this route safer to travel through, Mr. Vaughn built his tower between the years of 1922 and 1923, out of natural materials found in the area. Since then, additions have been made by others who were similarly inspired and the view is worth a stop here.
A little over ten years later, during the Great Depression, an itinerate artist, W.T. Ratcliffe, added his contribution. Ratcliffe seemed to see images in the huge boulders around the tower and spent several years carving a fantastic world of animals and creatures which can be found along a marked trail near the Tower.
The carvings and tower are registered as official California Historical Landmark number 939.
There is a small charge to tour the three levels of the Tower / Museum. At last check it was $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children.