I first heard about the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park through a friend. He told me about this park, famous for miles and miles of dirt roads (five hundred miles to be precise) and close to the Salton Sea. Over the past weekend, I decided to take a short trip and check it out. Anza-Borrego lies Southeast of LA and is a 3 hour drive along the I-15S and CA-79 routes. The drive along CA-79 is very scenic, and in particular while approaching the park along Montezuma Valley Road.
Unlike most other parks, there is no fee to enter Anza-Borrego. The town of Borrego Springs is located within the park and has a few restaurants and a couple of gas stations. The visitor's center lies to the west of the town along Palm Canyon Road. Incidentally, Borrego Springs is the first town in California, where I have come across a traffic roundabout, known as the Christmas Circle.
The park is beautiful and as mentioned earlier, has a lot of dirt roads that lead to incredible vistas. Fonts Point, probably the most prominent viewpoint, provides a good view of the Borrego Badlands and the valley below and can be reached by a four-mile drive on a primitive (read dirt) road. Park rangers advise not to attempt driving on that road without a four-wheel drive vehicle. Coyote Canyon and Palm Canyon offer great hiking and riding trails. Traveling east along the S22, you can see Truckhaven Rocks which are sandstone slabs inclined at an angle. This seems to be a hot tourist destination too and I saw a lot of people taking pictures. I did not have time to check out the Desert Gardens and the Mud Caves.
Unfortunately, I traveled in my dinky car and was unable to check out most of the touristy destinations which are only accessible via dirt roads. To really appreciate Anza-Borrego, you would need a 4WD. Anza-Borrego is a picturesque park that deserves to be on your list of travel destinations.
Camping at Anza-Borrego
There are a few campgrounds in Anza-Borrego. I chose to stay at Tamarisk Grove which lies to the south of Borrego Springs. The campground has around 27 sites with restrooms and hot showers. It is one of the better campgrounds I have visited and I really enjoyed my stay there. Reservations for this campground can be made at Reserve America.