HIDDEN GEMS IN ANZA BORREGO
200 Palm Canyon Dr.
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Phone: (760) 767-5311
Dog-Friendly: In most areas, but please only in winter when the weather is mild Kid-Friendly: Most areas
Hidden Gems in Anza Borrego State Park
We are so lucky to have such immense diversity here in San Diego County. You can literally visit the desert, snow and beach all in one day! The name Anza Borrego received its name from Spanish colonizer Juan Bautista who named it after the bighorn ship.
There are over 600,000 acres to explore and a ton of unique features. I am nowhere near an experienced desert explorer, so I can only share from my few experiences out to the Anza Borrego desert. I will say that I advise you visit in winter or spring. It gets HOT in the summer, easily reaching triple digits often.
Late winter/early spring is when you can watch the flowers bloom throughout the desert. The bloom time varies each year and is determined by a number of conditions such as rainfall and temperature.
There is also a ton of free camping as most of this is BLM land. Just make sure to always pack in and pack out. So without further ado, here is our list of Hidden Gems in Anza Borrego State Park!
1. Galleta Meadows
For those of you whom are art lovers and have not yet ventured out to Galleta Meadows, prepare yourself for a stunning experience unlike anything else in our city. This amazing site is home to nearly 200 metal sculptures depicting prehistoric creatures that once roamed the earth. Keep your eyes peeled because these gigantic installations are scattered across 3,000 acres. Each sculpture is the product of the artistic genius of sculptor Ricardo Breceda.
2. Anza Borrego Slot Canyon
The Anza Borrego Desert is actually the largest state park in California, with over 600,000 acres to explore & 500 miles of dirt roads. What appears to be barren land to the untrained eye, is actually a land rich with treasures that require going a little off the paved path to find. One of those treasures is the majestic slot canyons.
Slot canyons are narrower than they are deep, often to an extreme degree. Formed by flowing water eroding rock in a tight seam over millions of years, some canyons feature dramatic sculpturing of the nearly vertical cliffs. This reminded me a lot of Annie's Canyon, which is a coastal slot canyon in Solana Beach.
3. Ghost Mountain & Marshal House
From 1930-1947 Marshal South lived a rough, pioneer-lifestyle on the remote and waterless Ghost Mountain. For 9 of those years, South wrote for Desert Magazine about his family's struggles and experiences while living an isolated lifestyle in the harsh desert. The articles that he wrote showed his love of the desert and deep respect for its early inhabitants. His sudden and acrimonious divorce though ended the "experiment in primitive living", only drawing rumors and a surrounding mystery about who Marshal really was.
4. Cave 1
These caves are estimated to be nearly 5 million years old, having been created by fluvial erosion caused during extended periods of heavy rainfall. During the rainstorms, channels are cut into the mud hills, causing erosion, which forms canyons with unstable and undercut walls. Because of the cohesive consistency of the mud in this particular area and its ability to swell to several times its original dry volume, it adheres to itself and to the canyon walls, creating natural bridges and, sometimes caves, as it dries.
5. Calcite Mine Slot Canyon
I love slot canyons. The slittier the better. The Anza Borrego desert is full of them, but they usually require high clearance and four wheel/all-wheel drive to safely access. My car has unfortunately learned its lesson from vast ventures to not trespass these conditions.
So after a healthy session of scrutinizing Google Maps’ satellite view, I was highly intrigued to find what appeared to be a slot canyon easily accessible directly from the highway. And dare I say it did not disappoint....
While visiting, it is definitely recommended to camp! There are SO many spots that you can just pull over and camp for free. We have done it a few times and it's really a magical experience. Here are some of our photos from camping:
Wake up early for the sunrise: