Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (CA)


What? :

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California, with an area of over 500,000 acres of rugged desert landscape.



Where? :

The park is located in the Colorado Desert, about one-and-a-half-hour drive south of Palm Springs or two hours east of San Diego.

This is a very big park and has several entrances but the park headquarter and visitor center is located near the town of Borrego Springs.

From Indio (or I-10) take south highway 111/86, keep driving south on highway 86 to Salton City. From there take S22 (Borrego Salton Sea way) west for 30 miles and you will reach the center of Borrego Springs, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center is located 2.7 miles up the road to the west.


If you are using map app and your destination is the visitor center do not get into dirt road even if your app, take you into one. Because it size some app maps point into the shortest path using desert dirt roads, use only official paved roads.


Google Map Link



When? :

The park is open year-round, but the summer month are extremely hot (~110-120f mid-day), I highly recommend visiting here during to colder month of the year.

November through February has highs in the 60-70s and lows in the 40s. April and May are already getting to 80s, and June starting to more than 100f.




Due note 1: There is a gas service, stores, and many other facilities in Borrego Springs.


Due note 2: no matter if this is a short or long walk, make sure to have with you water and sunscreen.


Due note 3: This is a prime offroad 4x4 destination.

All roadways in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park-dirt, sandy wash, or paved are considered a road. 

All vehicles must be highway legal per the California Vehicle Code and must remain on all designated roadways.

All Off-Road Vehicles are prohibited in the park. 


Due note 4: After rainstorms in the mountains to the west you can have situation of flash floods in main river washlands. Check the weather before driving into your offroad trip.


Due note 5: Few offroad and hiking tips:

·         Do not hike alone.

·         Tell someone about your trip plans.

·         There is no cell reception, I highly recommend having gps communication system.

·         Carry a map and use it, Download Offline Maps and GPS Prior to Arrival.

·         In your car carry extra water, shovel, tools, flares, and blankets.

·         Check the road condition board at the visitor center before you start out.

·         If you offroad make sure you have good spare tire and repair tools and that you know how to replace a flat tire.



Due note 6: there is a large Campground in Borrego Palm Canyon, not so far from the visitor center.


Due note 7: Un like many other states parks the entire backcountry area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is defined as a camping facility, free of charge.

You can camp overnight almost anywhere you want, as long as your car is not parked more than one length off the road, please follow BLM camping guidelines.


Due note 8: The small Borrego Springs town is located in the center of the Anza-Borrego Park and has few hotels.


Due note 9: Drones are prohibited in the airspace above the reserve.


Due note 10: Open fires, including campfires and barbecues are prohibited at Blair Valley Primitive Campground, Culp Valley Primitive Campground and any backcountry campsites and day-use parking areas.  Portable propane or gas stoves are permitted for cooking only within designated campsite and day-use areas.


Due note 11: Cell phone coverage is spotty or nonexistent when you are getting into the desert.


Due note 12: There are restrooms and drinking facilities near the visitor center.


Due note 13: Dogs are welcome in the designated campgrounds, on designated roads where vehicles are allowed. They are not allowed in the backcountry, on trails, or in the wildflower fields.




My thoughts:

If you're looking for a place to experience the beauty of the south California desert, Anza-Borrego State Park is excellent destination during the cooler month of the year.

This is a prime destination for car offroad long drive activities that can be combined with hikes.





The visit:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California with about 500 miles of dirt roads, wilderness areas and many miles of hiking trails, badlands, palm oases, slot canyons, and mountain slopes, cacti and sweeping vistas.


The park is located on the eastern side of the Peninsular Ranges, which block most storms coming in off the Pacific.

The park is named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word Borrego, or bighorn sheep.


The large and interesting to visit Park Visitor center is located about 200 yards from the parking lot, the building is hidden, mostly underground.

October 1 - May 31, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily

June 1 - September 30, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


I did not hike so much at this park but rather did few offroad drives.

You can't have a blog on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park without mentioning Ricardo Breceda Metal Sculptures near Borrego Springs.

In the open fields surrounding Borrego Springs you will find enormous metal sculptures of animals, real and imaginative.

Some of the large animals are based on prehistoric animals other on living creatures.


The 130 rusty metal sculptures were created by the artist Ricardo Breceda.

Plan to spend here about 30 minutes to 1 hour driving from one place to another one discovering the different statues in the fields.


When I visit here during April 2023 Borrego Palm Canyon hike was close to access the Palm Canyon Oasis because there was a fire over there that burn the palms.


Other hiking options:

The Slot

2.3-mile loop trail to a slot canyon


Wildflower blooms:

In years with sufficient and well-timed rains, Anza-Borrego blossoms with one of the country’s most dazzling wildflower blooms.

When I visit here, mid-April 2023 most of the flower bloom in the valley was already over but I saw some of it in the higher elevation mountains.


Wind cave:

I did hike to wind cave, but this needs a 4x4 (or AWD if road condition are OK) to get to the trailhead.

See my Wind Cave blog for more information.



Borrego Badlands:

From the viewing point called Font’s Point you can see the sweeping vistas of a sculpted desert badlands.

Do remember that to get to Font’s Point this 4-mile-long road is 4WD only. The trail start at Borrego-Salton Sea way, 10.5 miles from Borrego Springs circle.

Fonts Point, overlooking the Borrego Badlands, is one of the most popular destinations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The best time to visit here is during sunrise or sunset where the low light create a shadow and color across the hills and sand canyons.

Unfortunately, during my one-day visit here I did not have the time to visit this location, looks like I must come back 😊.








Additional Pictures: