It was an usual long and wet winter in California, so you knew it was coming. You’ve seen the pictures all over Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s your turn to check it off the bucket list!
The deserts of Southern California tend to bloom with wildflowers just about every spring, but only after a winter as wet as this one do you get a superbloom! A rainbow of colors are covering Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and if you don’t see it this year it could be years until we see colors like this again!
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is in the desert between San Diego and Palm Springs, and can be reached as a day trip if you’re willing to spend half of your day driving. I had a feeling it was going to be a good year for flowers, so I booked my campground at Borrego Palm Canyon campground months ago, but you still may be able to find a reservation available!
Anza-Borrego SP may be most famous for it’s wildflower display, but there’s so much more to do in California’s largest state park!
Here’s what we did in our weekend in spring paradise:
We got a bit of a late start to our time in Anza-Borrego due to the crazy amount of traffic on the 15 (thanks to wildflowers on the side of the freeway). So we dropped the trailer in our campsite and quickly topped off the tank in Borrego Springs and began to explore the area.
There’s something about the desert that attracts the artists of California, and Galleta Meadows has some of the most impressive metal artwork I’ve seen!
You can’t miss the sculptures as the tower over the desert floor. You can easily drive right up to the sculptures with little offroading skills, or you can spend some time wandering the trails on foot, I even saw a couple of fat tire bicycles!
The sculptures make for some great photo ops, and are a must see when visiting Anza-Borrego SP.
The wildflowers of course …
Yes, the big reason why you’re here. We waited until closer to sunset to search for our patch of wildflower heaven to escape the daycation crowd and because we knew it would be that much better for pictures.
You can find maps of the blooms at the state park headquarters, the campgrounds, and a few tourist places in town. This beautiful patch of flowers stretched almost as far as the eye can see …
Please remember to tread lightly and take only photos. Yes, it’s tempting to lay down in a field of wildflowers for that perfect Instagram shot or pick a bouquet to enjoy back at home, but don’t be a jerk . Keep the flowers alive, by sticking to the dirt paths and patches and print out a beautiful picture for your living room.
Sunset at Font’s Point
The wildflower patch we photographed was only a few miles away from where we wanted to watch the sunset, Font’s Point. The sandy and bumpy road is not for the faint of heart, and I wouldn’t recommend bringing the Prius along for this one.
The 8 mile round trip dirt road is on S-22 about 10 miles out from Borrego Springs. The road is well marked with signs and the reward is well worth the screws I rattled loose in ol Blu’.
My biggest recommendation about Font’s Point is allow yourself more time than you’ll think you’ll need. I could’ve easily spent an hour sitting atop the ridge watching the sky change colors as the last rays of sunlight sink below the mountains, but I only had but mere minutes to sit and soak it all in. Font’s Point is an absolute must in Anza-Borrego SP!
No 777 here, but you’ll consider yourself lucky playing in this slot canyon. Many people think they have to drive to Arizona and Utah to experience the claustrophobic wonder that is a narrow slot canyon, but the Slot is quickly earning it’s recognition in Southern California. With that being said, I recommend you waking up early to hit the trail before the crowds show up.
The Slot itself is a little tricky to get to and once again I suggest a 4×4/AWD vehicle. From Christmas Circle, you’ll take Borrego Springs Road to Highway 78. Make a left onto Highway 78 and drive 1.4 miles to Buttes Pass Road. The dirt road will be on your left where you’ll drive just under 2 miles (following the one sign you’ll see for Slot) and park at the trail head.
You park above the Slot and hike down a fairly clear trail to the entrance of the canyon, and that’s where the fun starts. The canyon walls quickly become taller and narrow. Soon enough you’re taking off your backpack and sucking in the gut to make it through some of the tight spaces. But man oh man is it worth it! Bring a camera and be prepared to stop and wait for others to get their photos!
The canyon is only about a mile long before it opens up to a dirt road, you can continue the hike to loop around on the top of the canyon for a different perspective, or you can take the same way back.
We enjoyed the Slot so much (and were pressed for time) we decided to hike the canyon back which allowed for us to see some of the finer details like a precarious looking crack in a natural rock arch that shows just how fragile this landscape can be.
Things we missed:
Uggh … yes the sad part. Like I said we got a bit of a late start on Saturday due to the overwhelming amount of people which resulted in us missing some major highlights of Anza-Borrego SP.
Just up the road from our campground and the visitor’s center is the Borrego Palm Canyon trail, which is about a 3 mile round trip out-and-back hike that leads to a shady oasis of California fan palms, the only palm tree native to California. Another fun fact … Do you know that borrego is Spanish for sheep? Yes, Bighorn sheep can sometimes be spotted along this trail so keep an eye out! The trail only takes 1-2 hours to do and with better time management we could’ve checked this off the California bucket list! Next time!
Speaking of next time, yes you can experience a lot of what Anza-Borrego Desert SP has to offer in a weekend, but if you can, I’d suggest making it a 3 day weekend getaway. The popularly photographed “Pumpkin Patch” of boulders is technically in the state park but is quite the drive out towards Ocotillo Wells. This particular adventure would probably take up half a day itself.
All in all you could just drive a few hours to Anza-Borrego to take a few pictures of a rare superbloom. But, to really experience all of what California’s largest state park has to offer stay a night or two, hike some trails, talk to a park ranger, and watch the sun set over a true oasis in the desert.