Description - With over 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas.
Copyright: - California State Parks
Cliffs in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- With over 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States. 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. Listening devices for the hearing impaired are available in the visitor center.
The Visitor Center is built into a hill, so it is mostly underground. It is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during October through May and on weekends from June through September. The Visitor Center has some very informative exhibits, plus a free 16-minute nine-projector slide program, with music and narration. A desert garden just outside the Visitor Center building provides a quick look at some of the vegetation in the 600,000-acre park, with the species identified.
The desert wildflowers, a real attraction for this park, usually start blooming in force in late February or early March. Varieties of cactus bloom at all elevations but at different times, and for wildflower buffs they are the real prize.
Recreation - There are 500 miles of primitive roads and trails within the park for visitors to enjoy. Its 600,000 acres contain 12 wilderness areas, three county roads, one state highway, and more than 500 miles of dirt roads. There are two dozen well-marked hiking trails and hundreds of washes and canyons where visitors can be "alone" in the quietude of the desert.
CAMPING: Anza-Borrego has two well-developed campgrounds, Borrego Palm Canyon and Tamarisk Grove. Borrego Palm Canyon is the only one with hookups. There are nine primitive camp areas and a horse camp. In addition to all those, you can drive no more than one vehicle length off almost any dirt road in the park and camp. No conveniences, of course; you are completely on your own for water supply, garbage disposal, and anything else you might expect in a designated campground.
Climate - Days in south-central California are typically clear with less than 25% humidity.
Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85 and 50 degrees F respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60 degrees F, and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100 degrees F during the day and not cooling much below 75 degrees F until the early morning.
The park is located east of San Diego on Highway 79, five miles north of Interstate 8.
To find the Visitor Center, turn north (left) off 78 onto Highway S3, drive about 6 miles, and turn left onto Borrego Springs Road (Highway S3). Another 5 miles or so will take you to Christmas Circle in the town of Borrego Springs. Drive counterclockwise around the circle and turn off at Palm Canyon Drive west. Drive about 3 miles and follow the signs to the Visitor Center.