Things to do in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s

Things to do in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s

When it comes to fascinating land formations, incredible stargazing, and some of the best sunrises on earth, you can’t beat the deserts of the American West.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while (if not, welcome!), you know that I am a big fan of this part of the world for the adventure it offers and the peaceful moments of desolation.

A few years ago, my brother and I decided to go to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of San Diego for Christmas. We had the best time camping, driving in the 4WD and exploring this beautiful part of California. Here are some of the best things to do in Anza-Borrego:

1. Point Sunrise from Font

In a state known for its sunsets, where can you find the best sunrise in California? In my humble opinion, font’s Point is not only the most impressive part of Anza-Borrego, but the best sunrise in all of California. On a clear day, see the sun light up the golden landscape all the way to the Salton Sea, seemingly forever with no people or buildings in sight.

to get there, turn right at this point at the exit from Highway 22. Be warned in advance that there may be deep sand on this road throughout the park, so a 4WD car is wise.

2. Hotels near Palm Canyon Trail

The Palm Canyon Trail is 3.5 miles from the visitor center and is easily accessible from a paved parking lot. It leads to an oasis of palm trees and was originally intended to turn this land into a protected State Park.

Currently, the palm garden itself is closed for restoration, but the walking path is open and offers a beautiful view of the flora of the park. Nearby there is also the panoramic path, a kilometer that also offers beautiful views.

3. 4×4 through the Badlands washes

The Badlands make Anza-Borrego so beautiful and unique. I used to think I had to visit Badlands National Park to see land formations like this before I realized it was in my own backyard!

A few million years ago it was a tropical area full of water. It is rich in more than 550 different types of fossils dating back 6 million years ago, showing the progression from the changing environment to the arid desert it is today. My brother was then a graduate of Geophysics, so it was especially interesting for him!

The Badlands and rock formations are awesome but fragile, so don’t climb directly into the badlands or vegetation, but respect the established paths and washings.

You will definitely need an all-wheel drive car for this, and I saw someone get stuck when I was there, so know your limits and check the roads before you go crazy!

In addition, washes can quickly fill with water, so be very vigilant during the monsoon season (late summer) when thunderstorms can cause flash overflow.

4. Caves of the Wind

I like the Wind Caves, a unique geological phenomenon caused by, I think, wind and water?

Or maybe they are so named after the way the wind moves through the holes in these caves. Either way, they’re pretty cool to check out.

It is a short walk from the Fish Creek wash if you have the vehicle in front of it, or you can park at the primitive campground at the end of the paved road and walk in. It lengthens the day, but it’s doable and gives you a view of beautiful rock formations along the way.

5. The Pumpkin Patch

The pumpkin patch is located just east of the Anza-Borrego Park border. It is a block-sized area covered with rocks the size of a large pumpkin.

You can get there from Highway 22, although you will have to take dirt roads and washes to get to the pumpkin patch. Like many Anza-Borrego, you need an all-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. Find them here.

6. The Canyon of the Slots

You don’t have to travel all the way to Utah or Arizona to discover awesome slot canyons. They may not have the colors of Utah, but they have their own special beauty.

They can be difficult to find, so I recommend you check out this guide to learn more about how to find them and enjoy them. Remember to use slot canyons only when there is no rain nearby, as flash overflow is a problem with canyons and washes in Anza-Borrego, especially during the summer monsoon.

7. The Canyon of hell

This moderate 8.5 mile round trip hike is best held for winter, fall and early spring. As the name suggests, it roasts in the summer!

This hike is less crowded than Palm Canyon and just as accessible near the southwestern part of the visitor center parking lot. Expect to see an oasis of palm trees, possible bighorn sheep and climb a bit to Maidenhair Falls at the end. The size of these waterfalls will depend on the time of year and precipitation.

8. Stargaze

You can’t beat the desert to watch stars. In a state with a lot of light pollution, Anza-Borrego offers a unique opportunity to see a crystal clear Galaxy over the Badlands.

Be sure to go there during a new moon for the best starry sky. Alternatively, the full moon could also be pretty cool, but it would be more about the moon than the stars. If you are a photographer, the core of the Galaxy is available from March to October. This photo was taken in December and although “coreless”, it is still beautiful to me.

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