The Anza Borrego area was not always a desert. A million years ago the land had forests, streams, lakes, and grassy meadows. If you could go back in time and visit here, you could see animals such as the Columbian Mammoth, the giant bird Aiolornis, Camels, a strange animal called the Gomphothere, and maybe even a Sabertooth Cat. We know that these animals all lived here because their fossils have been found close to Borrego Springs.

These animals are all gone now, but thanks to the artwork of Ricado Breceda, you can see large metal sculptures of these ancient creatures on display in Borrego Springs. There are more than 130 sculptures throughout the valley, including animals that live here today, important figures in Borrego Springs history, and others that are purely fanciful!
 

Gomphothere

Ground Sloth

Ancient Camels


Most of the time, when an animal dies, the body and bones will slowly decay and within a few years there is nothing left to see. But in some cases, when the animal is covered with soil in just the right way, the bones slowly absorb minerals and they turn to rock, leaving the shape of the original bones. These are called fossils. Many fossils have been found in the Anza-Borrego Desert and this is how we know the many animals that used to live here.

Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center
25 Points in your Exploring Guide for going to the visitor center!

If you go to the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center you can see real fossils that were found in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center
25 Points in your Exploring Guide for going to the visitor center!

If you go to the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center you can see real fossils that were found in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

25 Points in your Exploring Guide for touring the sculptures!

All of the sculptures are within a few minutes of Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs and open to the public.

Click here to view a map that shows the location of some of the sculptures or you can pick up a detailed map when you arrive in Borrego Springs.

What will you see?

Many of the sculptures are purely creative creatures, created in the mind of the artist, such as the Massive Sand Serpent. The artist had fun creating dinosaur sculptures, but they never lived in this area.

But many of the creatures did live here, including:

  • Gracil Sabertooth Cat
  • Merriam’s Tapir
  • Giant Tortoise
  • Columbian Mammoth
  • Harlan’s Ground Sloth
  • Gompothere
  • Camelops
  • Aiolornis – Enormous bird. You can also see a model of this bird in the State Park Visitor Center
    • Native people created "Rock Art." Petroglyphs were carved into rocks, pictographs were painted on rocks. Why do you think people create artwork?

    • Close your eyes and try to imagine the Borrego Valley one million years ago. What would you see when you open your eyes?

    • What do you think about the artwork of Ricardo Breceda?

    When you take the tour you will also see sculptures of some creatures which live here today, like the scorpion and grasshopper, and the desert bighorn sheep. And you will see dinosaurs. But dinosaurs, like other creatures from Breceda's imagination, never did live here. The sculptures are located on private land, called Galleta Meadows, which is open to the public.

     




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