Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA – A Visitor’s Guide

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Beautiful spring wildflowers lit by sunset at Anza Borrego, California, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA - A Visitor's GuideDuring this difficult time in the travel industry, the occasional visit to a local state park may be a good alternative to fancy overseas trips, right? So we'll keep covering a few more state parks. Even if it's going to take a while for us to get there. I'm hoping that our research notes will help others.

Today, we're taking a look at a unique desert attraction in southern California: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Where Is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California, making it a can't-miss attraction for visitors from all over the world. Located two hours east of San Diego in the Colorado Desert, the 600,000 acres that make up the park are full of adventure and opportunity.

How To Get To Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Your drive to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park will vary entirely on where in California you're visiting from. All roads, however, will lead you to west S-22. From here, you'll take Palm Canyon Drive to the Anza-Borrego parking lot, located at 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004.

How Far Is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park From San Diego?

The drive from the bustling hub of San Diego to Anza-Borrego isn't too challenging if you want to use San Diego as your California vacation hub. You'll approach the park from the west on a route that takes you two hours and 83 miles.

How Far is Anza-Borrego From Palm Springs?

If you'd rather spend your Californian vacation exploring Palm Springs and Los Angeles, you can still easily dedicate a day to exploring Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The park is an hour and forty-five minutes south of Palm Springs via CA-78 E and CA-86 N.

What Is There To Do in This Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

Once you've arrived at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, it's up to you to determine how you want to divide your day. The best place to get started is at the Visitor's Center. Here, you'll find expansive exhibits detailing the park's history and its geological structure. The guides present here will be able to point you to some of the park's most iconic features, as well.

As soon as you've got your bearings, it's time to get exploring. Some of the best things to do while in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park include:

  • Take photos
  • Explore the park's history
  • Enjoy scenic drive-throughs
  • Watching the wildflowers grow
  • Look for local wildlife
  • Explore with a 4x4
  • Bike

If you have the time, you'll also want to take a look at some of the metal sculptures hidden throughout the park! The 350-foot serpent rising out of Galleta Meadows is a particular hit with visitors.

Hiking in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego has a trail for everyone, from beginners to experienced hikers. The longest trail in the park is four and a quarter miles long. While that may not seem too challenging to some, you'll still be able to enjoy spectacular views and a dive into the history that built the park into the spectacle it is today.

The trails you'll be able to explore while visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park include:

  • Calcite Mine Trail
  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
  • Panoramic Overlook Trail
  • Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls
  • Culp Valley Loop
  • Tubb Canyon Trail to Big Spring
  • The Slot
  • Kenyon Overlook Trail
  • Cactus Loop Trail
  • Yaqui Well Trail
  • Village Site
  • Narrows Earth Trail
  • Elephant Trees Trail
  • Pictograph Trail
  • Meorteros Trail
  • Marshal South Home Trail
  • Rainbow Canyon Trail
  • Wind Caves Trail

When's The Best Time to Visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

Wildflowers in the landscape at Anza Borrego, California

When you're planning your trip out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, you're going to want to keep California's tendency to overheat in mind. What does this mean, though?

In general, the best time to visit California is between April and September. The state doesn't see much rain during these months, which will make it easier for you to explore the state's parks and many attractions. However, come June, July, and August, temperatures in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park alone will frequently be above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're not prepared to deal with those temperatures, it'll be best for you to visit the park as the seasons start to change, in April, September, and October.

When Does Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Open?

Like many of the state parks operating in California, Anza-Borrego opens when the sun rises. The visitor center opens at 9 AM and closes at 5 PM, while the Park Office opens at 8 AM and closes at 5 PM with an hour for lunch. The park itself closes as soon as the sun sets, although visitors who are camping in the area are free to tour it as long as they please - so long as they respect the park rules and prioritize their safety.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

As of 2017, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park began collecting day-use fees. You're expected to pay to stay in the park at the visitor's center. Admissions, however, are only collected between Friday and Sunday and on holidays. Visitors must pay $10 per vehicle and can use the ticket they receive in return to re-enter the park at any time on the day of its purchase.

Additional Questions

Have more questions about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park? We'll do our best to answer them here so you can better plan your trip.

What Should You Bring to Anza-Borrego In The Summer?

If you're visiting Anza-Borrego during the summer, you need to prepare to deal with blistering temperatures and long days in the sun. Our recommended list of essentials includes:

  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A broad hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Aloe vera, for inevitable sunburn

What Should You Bring to Anza-Borrego In The Winter?

Untouched beautiful wildflowers and gorgeous landscape of Anza Borrego, California

It's often more comfortable for visitors from out-of-town to visit Anza-Borrego in the wintertime. That said, a winter visit to the park will require a unique set of gear if you want to enjoy it to its fullest.

Our recommended list of essentials to bring with you to the park in the winter includes:

  • A light jacket that you can easily carry
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Gloves that can grip easily
  • A reusable water bottle

If you're camping overnight, you're going to need to prepare for a sharp drop in temperature as soon as the sun sets. It'll be best not only to have something between your sleeping bag and the ground - a yoga mat, for instance - but also to bring several extra blankets, even if you think you may not use them.

Can You Bring Dogs to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

We know you want to bring your furry friends on vacation with you. Unfortunately, though, dogs are not allowed to tour the trails of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with you. They can, however, join you in the campground and picnic areas so long as you have them on a leash.

Where To Stay When Visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park?

Have you committed to visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park? Then it's time for you to find a place to stay. You can camp in the park year-round, so long as the weather is sporting. You can choose from any of the twelve campgrounds, or you can pitch your tent anywhere in the 600,000 available acres. In this way, Anza-Borrego is unique, as it's one of the few state parks in California to allow open camping.

If you're looking for a real mattress, though, instead of the hard ground, take a look at a few of your nearby options:

Borrego Springs Resort and Spa

Are you looking for a luxurious break at the end of your day exploring? Then you'll want to book a room at Borrego Springs Resort and Spa. Here, you'll find a spa, tennis courts, and an on-site restaurant waiting to welcome you back from a day in the desert.

Each of the rooms at Borrego Springs Resort and Spa comes equipped with a coffee maker, refrigerator, toiletries, and a cable-equipped television. If you're more interested in spending your time elsewhere, you'll be able to try for par at the Club Circle Golf Course or book a massage at the on-site spa. Dinner is a treat when you take it at the Arches Restaurant, which specializes in American and South Western cuisine.

Here's their Booking.com listing

La Casa del Zorro Resort

A mere ten minutes away from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, La Casa del Zoro is the perfect place for anyone looking to step away from the world for a while. Here, you'll have access to five outdoor pools and six tennis courts as well as well-equipped rooms. Your living space will come with a fireplace, toiletries, a flat-screen television, a coffee maker, and a refrigerator.

La Casa del Zorro also provides you with immediate access to some of the best food and drink in the area. You'll be able to enjoy fine dining at the Butterfield Room and all the drinks you can imagine at the Fox Den Bar. If you want to cool off with a drink by the pool, the Pool Bar will help you meet all of your tropical needs.

Check out their listing on Booking.com

Stanlunds Inn and Suites

For a more laid-back experience, you can book a room at Stanlunds Inn and Suites. Two and a half miles away from Anza-Borrego, you'll find each room here equipped with free WiFi, a microwave, a flat-screen television, and a refrigerator. You'll also have access to complimentary toiletries for the entirety of your stay.

Check out their listing on Booking

We hope you find this guide useful. Keep on planning trips while following local instructions on the corona. We will get back to traveling - even if we can only make plans for now.

Beautiful spring wildflowers lit by sunset at Anza Borrego, California, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA - A Visitor's Guide

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