Located just 2-hours from San Diego, Anza Borrego is the largest state park in California that you’ve probably never heard of… until now. The recent rainfall in Southern California has produced perfect conditions for a Super Bloom, an abundant display of desert wildflowers beginning in March. If you plan to catch the show this month, here is a weekend guide to help you make the most of your adventure in one of our favorite local parks.
Best Time to Go
The most popular time to visit Anza Borrego is October through May, when temperatures are most pleasant. Desert wildflowers typically bloom from late February through March.
Anza Borrego State Park is about 3 hours drive from Los Angeles or 2 hours from San Diego.
Where to Camp
Borrego Palm Canyon Campground is a full-service campground offering all of the amenities, including fire rings, flush toilets, showers, group sites and access to the Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail (see below).
Make a reservation at reserveamerica.gov.
Free Backcountry Camping
If you’re planning a spontaneous weekend adventure in Anza Borrego to experience the Super Bloom, chances are the campground is full. Fortunately, if you can survive without the amenities, Anza Borrego offers free dispersed camping anywhere in the park under the following conditions:
- Vehicles must be parked no more than 1 vehicle length off the road, though you make hike in further to pitch your tent. Do not trample fragile vegetation or drive over geological features.
- Camp at least 100 feet away from all water sources.
Ground fires not permitted. You must contain your fire in a metal container and pack out your ashes.
- Bring your own firewood. Gathering wood from the ground is prohibited.
- Brush up on your Leave No Trace principles as you head into the backcountry, and pack out all waste.
Learn more about backcountry camping in Anza Borrego State Park here.
Things To Do
The majority of Anza Borrego State Park is off-road, and access to many, though not all, of the trails requires 4WD. In order to avoid getting stuck, stop by the Visitor Center for a current report of road conditions. Click here for a map and trailhead directions.
The best areas of the park to experience the Super Bloom are Borrego Palm Canyon, Henderson Canyon Road, Coyote Canyon. Check the Wildflower Report or stop by the Visitor Center for more information and road-access conditions. Remember Leave No Trace – please do not pick or trample wildflowers. Watch your step for hungry caterpillars! On our previous visit in 2015, we saw hundreds spread across the desert floor.
Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail
The 3-mile out-and-back trail begins from Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and leads to a palm oasis. Grab a pamphlet at the trailhead for a self-guided tour of the native plants and flowers.
A dirt road from Highway 78 East leads to the 1.5-mile out-and-back trail through a narrow slot canyon.
Galleta Meadows Metal Sculptures
You can’t miss them. There are over 130 metal sculptures in total, commissioned by Dennis Avery and crafted by artist Ricardo Breceda. You can buys a map from the Visitor Center to find them all, but a good place to start is Galleta Meadows Estate.
The 2-mile out-and-back trail to the swiss cheese rock formations begins from Split Mountain Road on Fish Creek Wash. Your vehicle should be equipped with 4WD. The Wind Caves offer a breathtaking view of the Carrizo Badlands and Elephant Knees.
Photos © 2017 Shoestring Adventures