Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
California’s largest state park protects an arid mountain wilderness that’s home to wildlife and vegetation like bighorn sheep, eagles, roadrunners, iguanas, wildflowers, palms, and cacti. Its remote atmosphere attracts visitors who want to hike or explore via 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is part of the UNESCO-designated Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve and is also home to a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. With more than 600,000 acres of canyons, mountains, and other rugged terrain, the park offers a wealth of hiking; maps can be picked up at the visitor center. Popular trails include the Palm Canyon Nature Trail, a 3-mile loop to a desert oasis; the Cactus Loop Nature Trail, which is just 1 mile but steep and rocky; and Erosion Road, which is a driving tour along a paved road that’s ideal for those who don’t want to hike.
Things to know before you go
- There is a day use fee per vehicle to enter the park.
- Most of the dirt roads in the park require a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
- Wear sun protection and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated when hiking in the desert.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of sun and heat stroke if you plan to hike.
- Campsites can be reserved online.
How to get there
The Anza-Borrego Desert is about 100 miles (160 km) south of Palm Springs via State Route 86 and State Route 78. The park is about two hours northeast of San Diego. The visitor center is located at the west end of Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs.
When to get there
The park is open between sunrise and sunset. Wildflower season is typically February to April.
For those interested in the archaeology of this desert region, the park offers 90-minute walking tours of the archaeology labs, where you can see collections not available to the public and learn about the ongoing paleontology research.
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