The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a desert reserve in the perimeter of San Diego County, but also neighboring Imperial and Riverside Counties. It’s located within the Colorado Desert and at 600,000 acres it’s the largest state park in California and the second-largest in the United States. It has 500 miles of dirt roads, 110 miles of hiking trails which allows visitors many ways to explore the unique wilderness of the Anza-Borrego desert area.
The desert was named after Spanish explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word, Borrego for bighorn sheep. It took many years of preservation efforts led by the State Park Commission and other associations so that the desert park could become a protected site. The Borrego Palms Desert State Park as it was first called was finally born in 1932 when the first 2,732 acre parcel of land was deeded to the state by Louis T. and Lorraine Busch. After sixteen years of land acquisition, the current boundaries of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park were finally defined.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has twelve designated wilderness areas which are in the highest category of protected areas as defined by the World Commission on Protected Areas. The Anza-Borrego has many species of flora and fauna including rock formations, desert washes, bajadas, and cacti. Be on the lookout for the endangered palm tree, the California Fan Palm, and woodlands including plants such as the Smoke Tree and the Honey Mesquite. Also, don’t miss out on the spectacular wildflower displays from February to March of every year.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park also has many oases and springs where you will find all types of animals. You can encounter coyotes, roadrunners, foxes, Golden eagles, and Black jackrabbits, the Ocotillo, the Cholla and much more. The desert park is also home to the endangered Desert Bighorn Sheep which visitors can see on occasion in the Santa Rosa Mountains which have the only watercourse which flows year-round. The Bighorn Sheep are usually hard to find because they tend to be cautious and stay away from people.
Best Time to Visit
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is open to the public daily from dawn until dusk. The Visitor Center is open only on weekends and holidays from 9 am to 5 pm from May until October. You discover the desert, you can hike on your own using one of the following self-guided trails; the Yaqui Well Nature Trail, the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, the Cactus Loop Nature Trail, Elephant Trees Nature Trail, or the Narrows Earth Nature Trail. If you prefer to drive you can also take the Erosion Road Driving Tour. For an unforgettable experience, you can take advantage of the many overnight campsites all around the park and wake up to an incredible view.
If you don’t want to explore the park on your own, you can embark on some of the activities available at the Visitor Center, such as the 40-minute Naturalist Talks which take place either indoors or out at the Visitor’s Center, or the Nature Walks and the Guided Hikes throughout the desert. Kids will also enjoy the Campfire programs and the Junior Ranger programs. While hiking, always wear a hat and be sure to have plenty of drinking water on-hand.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located at 200 Palm Canyon Drive (between Hoberg Rd & Montezuma Valley Rd) in Borrego Springs, California.