Robert Arends

Spring to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for Sensational Hikes

Font's Point
Font's Point

I'm on top of the world! Font's Point

I recently laced up my hiking shoes and trekked through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (located 2 hours east of San Diego) to discover some of the most pristine, untouched wilderness in Southern California, including Clark Dry Lake bed, winding slot canyons and phenomenal vistas from Font’s Point, “California’s Grand Canyon” (RV Life).

Borrego Springs Desert Wildflowers

Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers

Spring is the perfect time to visit the park for a few hikes. The temps are pleasantly warm (in the 70s) and desert wildflowers begin to bloom in the canyons and washes (though the winter rains weren’t very plentiful this year). Desert cacti are generally dependable performers through late March.

If you’re a first-timer to this arid, breathtakingly beautiful part of San Diego County, I highly recommend hooking up with California Overland whose knowledgeable guides will take you deep into the park’s hidden, less-accessible areas aboard 4-wheeel drive vehicles. It’s a thrilling “E-ticket ride” as you rumble across scenic landscapes through rugged Badlands.

Slot Canyon near the Calcite Mine

One stop along the way that offers incredible hiking is a magnificent Slot Canyon just off the S-22 by a former Calcite Mine (in the Font’s Point North Sector of the park). It’s a relatively easy hike with phenomenal photo ops at every twist and turn of the terrain. This is nature’s cathedral with towering peaks and boulder outcroppings, creating a peaceful almost Zen-like silence that’s only broken by occasional birds singing overhead.

Font's Point - "California's Grand Canyon!"

Font's Point - "California's Grand Canyon!"

Southwest of slot canyon is another hiking highlight: Font’s Point. The trek up to this unparalleled precipice from the parking area is short and sweet and so worth it! The views are seemingly endless to the Salton Sea and Mexico to the east, the entire Borrego valley and surrounding mountains. You could easily spend an hour gazing in awe at the formations below. Word of warning: There are no fences at the overlook so be very cautious with every step and don’t get too close to the edge.

Roadrunner at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Beep beep! Roadrunner at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

For novices (and those who would rather not off-road to the two hiking spots above) there’s a very easy nature trail that loops around the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center (200 Palm Canyon Dr.). See cacti (the Ocotillo is my favorite with its crimson red flowers!), palm trees and other flora up-close, as well as lizards sunning on rocks and the occasional roadrunner darting to and fro! Like Font’s Point, this trail offers sensational vantage points of the valley and mountains. Definitely bring your camera!

Flowering Ocotillo at Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Flowering Ocotillo at Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Tell us or show us in the comments below, what is your favorite thing about the Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park…

Robert Arends

5 to Try – East County Desert Edition

Pre-historic Giant Sloth sculpture in Borrego Springs.

Fall is in the air – A perfect time to check out San Diego’s Anza-Borrego Desert and the quaint desert town of Borrego Springs. Following are five fun ways to explore and experience this captivating landscape:

1. Star gazing… Borrego Springs is an International Dark Sky Community – only the second in the world! No doubt because downtown is illuminated by only 25 or so streetlights. At night, gaze skyward to behold the most spectacular sparkling display of stars in the state. The quiet stillness and sheer vastness of this stellar tapestry will take your breath away!

2. Walk with dinosaurs… Borrego’s fossilized past comes to life at Galleta Meadows Estate, a literal “Land of the Lost” along Borrego Springs Rd. featuring artist Ricardo Breceda’s “Sky Art” Sculptures – realistic steel-welded dinosaurs, mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and sloths, as well as life-size animals of the non-prehistoric kind, including camels, tortoises and wild stallions. On the way, be sure to pick up some delicious fresh oranges and ruby online casino red grapefruit from roadside vendors by the citrus groves.

3. Trip to the moon(scape)…The Borrego Badlands, located east of town off of Highway S22, are an incredible sight with jagged eroded hills, cliffs and giant cracks in the earth. There are some great overlooks just off the road to park your car and peer down on this other-worldly landscape. Sunset, especially, really brings out the red, yellow and orange sandstone layers!

4. Desert delights… For an up-close look at the boundless beauty of San Diego’s desert, a must-see is the Visitor Center at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Photo opps abound in their desert garden: cacti and towering ocotillo with spines of fiery crimson blossoms, plus postcard backdrops of clear blue skies, rugged mountains and the desert floor.  Be on the lookout and listen for rustling in the chaparral to spot lizards and roadrunners {beep beep!}. There’s even a palm-lined pond of tiny desert pupfish (yep! They’re native to the region.).   

5. Bird watching… for “snowbirds,” that is! A great way to end the day: dinner at Carlee’s Place (660 Palm Canyon Dr.) where you can spot snowbirds – RVers and other folks from colder climates who spend the fall/winter in the desert – and locals alike enjoying good ol’ American eats (mouthwatering steaks and seafood!).  For the bravest Borrego explorers, karaoke night is every Saturday.