Anza-Borrego State Park : Planning your trip.
If you are planning a trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and you have never
been here before, one of the first things to realize is that Anza-Borrego is
not just one place, it is very many different places, vast, an immense area
of badlands, eroded canyons, twisting washes, alluvial fans, and mountain peaks that
stretch across 600,000 acres, from the mountains south of Palm Springs to
the Mexican border. Anza-Borrego State Park is a wonderful mixture of
climatology, botany, zoology, geology, paleontology, astronomy, and history,
all waiting to be explored. The desert is full of life and color.
The first step in planning your visit will be to decide which part of the
park you want to explore or what kinds of activities interest you most.
There are 500 miles of dirt roads in Anza-Borrego. Many of them will require
four-wheel drive, but there are plenty of explorations off of paved highways
that you can take with a two wheel drive vehicle. For hikers, there are
more than one hundred miles of hiking trails and countless more miles to explore
on foot in the washes, the canyons, and on the slopes of the mountains.
Base Camp Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs is the
logical place to base your trip.
There are many things to do within
a one hour drive of Borrego Springs and all of Anza-Borrego is within a
reasonable day trip.
Accommodations and Camping
Springs Chamber of Commerce website is a good place to search for
accommodations and RV parks. If you are camping, you should know that you
can camp along any of the park's dirt roads, as long as you park within one car
length of the roadway itself, and follow park regulations. It is important
to note that you may not build fires on the ground or collect any wood or plant
Finding Your Way Around
There is an excellent
map of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that you can download directly from
the state park's website that will help visualize where things are located.
If you plan to venture off on your own when you get here you will probably want
to pick up a larger and more detailed map but this one will work very well in
organizing your trip.
When To Visit
The busy season in Anza-Borrego stretches from October - early May, this is
when temperatures are most pleasant in the lower elevations. In the
summertime the higher elevations can be very pleasant but the desert lowlands
are very hot. On the flipside, the higher elevations can be cold and snowy
in winter. To see average
temperatures and precipitation in Borrego Springs ( elevation 597) and Ranchita
( elevation 4056) , as well as the record highs and lows, just click here.
What to See
There are several ways to plan your trip. You can take a look at what
is available in each part of the park (North - Central - South) for a
driving-hiking experience or you can zero in on your areas of special interest.
These would include:
For Detailed Information
Books abound that will enhance your desert exploration experiences. Listed
below are just a few of many titles available at our Anza-Borrego Desert Natural
History Association Borrego Desert Nature Center at 652 Borrego Palm Canyon
Drive in Borrego Springs. Books
that are available in our online store are linked below.
As a benefit of membership, the Association mails to its members a copy of
The Sand Paper, a five times a year newsletter.
The Sand Paper includes articles on myriad Anza-Borrego subjects including
trails, history, Native Americans, plants, birds, animals, and more.
General Desert Exploration:
For general desert exploring,
The Anza-Borrego Desert Region: A Guide to the State Park and Adjacent Areas of
the Western Colorado Desert, by Lowell and Diana Lindsay, is a must.
Those who are new to desert exploration, should carefully read the first three
Anza-Borrego: Over 100 Half-Day Hikes, by Robin Halford. The title
says it all. The walks are easy and not-so-easy, but meant to be brief, and
Halford includes a few trails the others do not.
Points of Interest and Walks Along the Paved Roads of Anza-Borrego Desert State
Park, by Paul Johnson.
Colorado Desert Wildflowers: A Guide to Flowering Plants of the Low
Desert, Including the Coachella Valley, Anza-Borrego Desert, and Portions of
Joshua Tree National Monument, by Jon Mark Stewart. A basic plant
identification book. Arranged by flower colors.
Introduction to California Desert Wildflowers, by Philip A. Munz,
revised edition, edited by Diane L. Renshaw and Phyllis M. Faber. A basic plant
identification book, more comprehensive than Stewart. Arranged by flower colors.
Diego County Native Plants. By James Lightner. Second edition January
2006. A plant identification book arranged by plant families, with comprehensive
California Desert Flowers: An Introduction to Families, Genera, and
Species, by Sia Morhardt and Emil Morhardt. A plant identification book
covering 24 of the most spectacular plant families. Comprehensive text and
The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California.
Bruce G. Baldwin et al., editors. A bible for botanists and serious amateurs.
Not for neophytes.
Desert Wild Flowers, Revised Edition (1941), by Edmund C.
Jaeger. A classic, long a favorite. Plant names may be out of date, but the
anecdotal information is always interesting. Arranged by families. Black and
Geology and Paleontology
Geology of Anza-Borrego: Edge of Creation, by Paul Remeika and
Lowell Lindsay. Geology and paleontology-oriented tours of Anza-Borrego Desert
Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert: The Last Seven Million
Years. Edited by George T. Jefferson and Lowell Lindsay.
The Rise and Fall of San Diego: 150 Million Years of History Recorded in
Sedimentary Rocks, by Patrick Abbott.
Geology and Geothermal Resources of the Imperial and Mexicali Valleys, edited
by Lowell Lindsay and William G. Hample. Tour roadlogs for the Imperial Valley
and Mexicali Valley in Mexico.
Guide to Birds of the Anza-Borrego Desert, by Barbara W. Massey.
San Diego County Bird Atlas, by Philip Unitt.
DVD Better Bird
Watching - videos, audio clips, and other information about birds of the
Native American Rock Art
The Forgotten Artist: Indians of Anza-Borrego and Their Rock Art,
Manfred Knaak. Excellent book - but out of print
Cattlemen and Other Pioneers of the Anza-Borrego Area, by
Beginnings: Early Days in the Borrego Valley 1910-1960, by
Anza-Borrego A to Z: People, Places, and Things, by Diana
Lindsay. The companion to The Anza-Borrego Desert Region. Available in our
Borrego Springs Nature Center.