Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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The Basics:

With over 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States. 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the Colorado Desert. The park is named after Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish name borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunner, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake.

The image above is a real-time image of Anza-Borrego – or perhaps more accurately, the sky above Anza-Borrego. The web-cam taking the image is housed in the located at Borrego Springs High School in downtown Borrego Springs, CA, approximately 2 miles from the Anza-Borrego State Park visitor Center on Palm Canyon Drive. During the day, the camera takes a picture every 10 minutes (refresh your browser for the most recent image).


  1. Slot Canyons:

    Slot Canyon

    Anza-Borrego has many short and accessible sections of slot canyon which can be safely explored without any technical gear or canyoneering knowledge. Like all canyons, a slot canyon is formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. However, ‘slot’ canyons are significantly deeper than they are wide. Although slot canyons are found in predominantly in areas with low rainfall, local as well as distant rain can cause dangerous flash flooding in slot canyons. In some canyons, it can be miles before a safe exit or rescue is possible – so it is best to avoiding hiking in them if there is any sign of rain.


  3. Mud & Wind Caves:

    The Mud Caves are also a popular feature in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The Mud Caves, located in Arroyo Tapiado, were created by water flowing through a thick deposit of silt. There are at least 22 caves, some up to 1,000 feet (300 m) in length and 80 feet (24 m) in height. Many of the caves are easily accessed. Although Big Mud Cave is the only cave marked on most maps. Other caves include The Hidden Cave, Chasm Cave, Carey’s Big Mud Cave, Plunge Pool Cave and Dip Slope Cave.

    Towards the east side of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there is a short hike up the side of the Split Mountain Wash to a fascinating destination overlooking the Carrizo Badlands. This 1.25-mile round trip hike climbs 250 feet to a sandstone formation with wind-eroded pockets that insist on being explored.


  5. The Palm Canyon Oasis:

    Desert Bighorn Sheep

    The creation of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park began in the 1930s with the protection of this palm-filled canyon,which is the third-largest palm oasis in California. It’s a beautiful, well-watered oasis, tucked away in a rocky V-shaped gorge of the San Ysidro Mountains just west of Borrego Springs. This 3.25-mile loop ascends approximately 450 feet and visits the first palm grove and a waterfall. A longer option takes you exploring farther up-canyon. In winter, the trail to the falls is one of the most popular in the park. In summer, you’ll have the oasis all to yourself. Watch for bighorn sheep, which frequently visit the canyon.


  7. The Pacific Crest Trail:

    The Pacific Crest Trail (commonly abbreviated as the PCT) is a long-distance hiking trail that runs through the highest portions of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail’s southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, and its northern terminus on the U.S.–Canada border. The PCT’s track through Anza-Borrego is hot, almost shadeless, and waterless for the entire leg. But if you can handle the difficulties–an enormous load of water–the desert will reward your pack-mule toughness.

    Directions to the Trailheads (South to North): Start at CA 78 in the San Felipe Valley, immediately east of CA S2 and 12.5 miles east of Julian. End at Montezuma Valley Road S22, 4.5 miles west of Ranchita.

Anza-Borrego Panorama

Anza-Borrego Resources: