Hi Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of the most most unique places in the US. Most state parks encompass beautiful areas, which are perfect for camping, picnicking, water sports, bicycling, hiking, and more. Usually these areas are somewhat special and allow visitors to get more in touch with nature. However, Anza-Borrego isn’t your typical California state park. It encompasses 600,000 acres of badlands, desert, palm tree oases, slot canyons, and slopes. Pack your bags, grab your Harvest Hosts membership, and buckle up as we explore the ins and outs of this stunning park.
The History of Anza-Borrego
Long before it was named Anza-Borrego, this area was home to the Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Kumeyaay Native American tribes. Most of the level areas where you may want to set up a tent or an RV were most likely the location of villages once upon a time. Within the park, there is an ancient rock structure that has been studied by archaeologists.
Several thousand years later, a Spanish explorer by the name of Juan Bautista de Anza passed through the desert, which is how it received its current name. “Borrego” is spanish for sheep, which refers to the bighorn sheep that inhabit the area.
Things to Do
Anza-Borrego is a hiker’s paradise, with dozens of trails of varying degrees, ranging from easy to moderate to difficult. Even some of the easier trails treat hikers to beautiful views. If you hike at the right time of year, most of these hikes also provide excellent views of the blooming wildflowers. See the following hikes for more information.
Cactus Loop is an easy hike, at only 0.7 miles in distance roundtrip. The trailhead is easy to miss, which can be beneficial for avoiding those looking to avoid crowds. On this nature trail, hikers can experience a variety of cactuses, flowers, and plants.
Hikers don’t need to know how to canyoneer to enjoy this hike. The Slot is a moderate loop hike totaling 2.3 miles in length. This hike involves climbing down into the canyon and exploring the surroundings. Please note that, in some spots, the canyon can become narrow, with less than three feet in width.
This moderate hike is two miles out-and-back and allows visitors to view a series of wind caves, which are holes carved into rocks by wind. At the top of the hike there are views of the badlands, mountains, and sand dunes.
The nearby town of Borrego Springs is the first International Dark Sky Community in California. This means that the town has taken the necessary measures of reducing light pollution to allow for the most stars to be seen by the naked eye.
There are numerous hikes and places to visit with historical significance. More than fifty boulders and cliffs throughout the park are marked with ancient pictographs. Anza-Borrego is also the site of exceptional fossils. Ancient bones, teeth, preserved plants, and tracks are just some of the fossils that have been uncovered here.
Anza-Borrego is home to some truly fascinating geological discoveries, as well. For instance, there is an area of flat land dotted with boulders, called “The Pumpkin Patch.” There are also canyons made of sandstone and calcite.
In order to take advantage of the scenic drives in this park, you will require a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. Some trails are possible with just a high-clearance vehicle (no 4×4), but this is not recommended. Oftentimes, the ground is made of soft sand that can easily get vehicles stuck. There are numerous 4×4 trails in Anza-Borrego that can allow visitors to access parts of the park that would take days to hike to.
There are numerous places to camp in and around the park. See below for more details.
In the Park
Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
The largest and most popular campground in the park is Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. Their amenities include potable water, fire rings, picnic tables, showers, and flush toilets. They accept reservations, and their rate is $25-$80 per night.
Tamarisk Grove Campground
This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, showers, and flush toilets. They accept reservations, and sites cost $25 per night.
Vern Whitaker Horse Camp
Vern Whitaker Horse Camp is the smallest of the developed campgrounds. Here, the amenities include potable water, fire rings, picnic tables, showers, and flush toilets. They accept reservations, and their rate is $30 per night.
Bow Willow Campground
This first come, first-served campground offers potable water, fire rings, picnic tables, and flush toilets. Their rate is $15 per night.
All of Anza-Borrego’s campgrounds are primitive, dry-camping-only campgrounds. They are completely free of charge, and all except Yaqui Pass Campground have vault toilets. The primitive campgrounds in Anza-Borrego are as followed:
Blair Valley Campground
Sheep Canyon Campground
Culp Valley Campground
Arroyo Salado Campground
Yaqui Pass Campground
Yaqui Well Campground
Fish Creek Campground
Mountain Palm Campground
There is also free, dispersed camping allowed almost anywhere. This can be a great, private solution for RVers, especially if the campgrounds are already full. The rules for dispersed camping are as followed:
- No camping within 100 feet of any water source
- No camping further than one car length from any dirt or paved road
- You must pack out all trash
- Ground fires are not permitted, and metal containers must be used for all campfires
Outside of the Park
This RV park offers full hookups and is big-rig friendly. Their amenities include a recreation and wellness center, a salt pool, a spa, tennis, pickleball, a dog park, and more. They also have their own astronomy park that offers guided presentations and has a telescope.
Harvest Hosts Locations
Opened in 2011, Sierra Roble Winery and Vineyard produces a variety of wines, including vintage varieties. This Harvest Hosts location is Kurt west of Anza-Borrego State Park, offering nearby access or a great place to stop and stay when going to or from the park. They offer three reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length.
This 21st Century museum strives to give visitors an experience outside of the four walls of typical museums. They offer a variety of Native American and historical artifacts both inside and outside of their facility. Just south of Anza-Borrego, this would make a great stop for groups of any age. They have two reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size. Please note, that this business is not currently open due to Covid-19 regulations but has plans to reopen in the near future.
Travelling in an RV allows travelers to explore the world and return to their home-on-wheels. Visiting state parks such as Anza-Borrego are even more fun when you bring your RV along. Consider this lovely place for your next RV vacation.
Have you ever visited Anza-Borrego State Park? If so, what was your favorite part? If you haven’t been yet, what sounds the most exciting to you? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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