Anza-Borrego Desert State Park®
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. Five hundred miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and many miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert. The park is named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake. Listening devices for the hearing impaired are available in the visitor center.
The Park is located on the eastern side of San Diego County, with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from San Diego, Riverside, and Palm Springs.
Many visitors approach from the east or west via Highways S22 and 78. From the coast, these highways descend from the heights of the Peninsular range of mountains with spectacular views of the great bowl of the Colorado Desert. Highway S2 enters the park from the south off of Interstate 8.
Once in Borrego Springs, the easiest way to find the Visitor Center is to drive to the far west end of Palm Canyon Drive. From the parking lot ($10 fee per car per day), follow the sidewalk down about 200 yards past the flagpole to the front doors of the building, which is hidden, mostly underground!
The 3-mile (roundtrip) Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is accessed from the trailhead at the end of the main campground road ($10 Day-use parking fee).
Most visitors approach from the east via Highways S22, S2, or 78. Visitors from San Diego via Highways 79 and 78 have the added pleasure of driving through the mountainous Cuyamaca Rancho State Park--quite a different experience from Anza-Borrego. The highways from the east climb to 2,400 feet or so and then descend about 2,000 feet to the valley. Where the highway breaks out of the high-country vegetation, it reveals the great bowl of the Anza-Borrego desert. The valley spreads below, and there are mountains all around. The highest are to the north--the Santa Rosa Mountains. The mountains are a wilderness, with no paved roads in or out or through. They have the only all-year-flowing watercourse in the park. They are the home of the peninsular bighorn sheep, often called desert bighorn. Few park visitors ever see them; the sheep are justly wary. A patient few observers each year see and count them, to learn how this endangered species is coping with human encroachment.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® has been named an International Dark Sky Park and the town of Borrego Springs a Dark Sky Community!
This recognition for our efforts in protecting and interpreting the dark skies over the park comes from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), and will help ensure that dark skies over Anza-Borrego remain an unspoiled resource. Read the Press Release. Plan to join us for our next Stargazing date: June 29, 9-10 pm at the Visitor Center.