Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Things you see in the desert. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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.”

IMG_0291This park is huge, and for the last few years we have spent most of our time here exploring the southern regions of the park.  It is very lightly visited, with few facilities and few people – just how we like it!

IMG_0297IMG_0298There are day-use fees at a few selected locations, but for most of the park, access is free.



There is evidence throughout the park of past activities including some mining and ranching.

I found this entrance to something underground, but not sure what it was.  It does not resemble typical mining activity, so perhaps it was some sort of root cellar or water storage facility.  We didn’t get too close in case of cave-ins.


There must have been some recent rains, as there are vast areas of these flowers.  According to my phone (!), these are likely Desert sand-verbena.  They smell great.



There is evidence of cattle pastures in this area, but this big old 6 cylinder engine to pump water seems to indicate that there was a greater demand for water.



Sections of old pipe laying around indicate that it was likely to irrigate fields, however little evidence of fields remain.


These metal pipes, about 12” in diameter all had multiple slots cut into them at intervals.


This dry wash created some interesting patterns when it dried out.


The desert may look deserted, but there is actually a lot of activity, much of it at night.



Took along some fresh fruit, and some not-so-fresh snacks to sustain me on a hike. These bars expired recently (2016), so I thought it was time to use them up.  Still great!


Lots of backcountry roads, mostly in the washes.  Only street-legal vehicles are allowed so that cuts down a lot of the traffic, yay!  Didn’t see a single vehicle or person on my roughly 8 mile hike.  Perfect.


I went in search of Vallecitos Hot Springs one day.  It’s on Google Maps, so that part was easy.  It was only a short 1/4 mile or so from where I parked to the obvious little oasis up the hill a bit. But unfortunately, I was just wearing my sandals, and this place is just thick with nasty cactus, much of it the dreaded Teddy Bear or Jumping Cholla.  And I didn’t even have gloves, or my little pliers that are always in my pack.  I had to watch every single foot step, and it was a bit steep in places.  I couldn’t believe my luck making it back to the truck with not a single thorn in me!


All thoughts of a leisurely soak on a remote springs were dashed, when what water there may have been was completely guarded by an impenetrable tangle of brush that would have challenged even the nearby fox I saw to get through.  Old rusting pipe nearby indicate that it was a water source historically for a nearby ranch operation.



  1. Teddy Bear Cactus are just nasty, glad to made it without a mishap, or we’ll almost made it. Too bad there was no way around all that stuff. It looks like a nice spot. Enjoy.


  2. A pocket comb works pretty good at removing those pesky cholla balls.