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By Kylie Dees

May 21, 2022 (Anza-Borrego Desert) - Anza Borrego Desert State Park, located in San Diego County is just two to three hours east of San Diego. It’s the largest state park in California – and nearby Borrego Springs also has much to offer. There is definitely something for everyone of every age to experience and enjoy.

If you go, be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat – since desert temperatures can reach triple digits in the summer months, though temperatures are often mild in winter, when snowbirds flock to the region from across the nation, and in spring, when visitors come in search of desert wildflowers.

Francoise Rhodes is Executive Director of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the Borrego Springs Farmers Market. It runs from the first Friday in November all the way until the first Friday in May from 8 a.m. to noon at Christmas Circle. The market offers jewelry, clothing, hummus, fresh produce and seafood and even fresh popped kettle corn. 

In an interview with East County Magazine, Rhodes mentioned that some of the top attractions in the area include the state park and the Galleta Meadows art sculptures, which are huge statues placed all over the valley–including a giant serpent which is famous worldwide and many more. Borrego Springs is also an international dark sky community, the first in the United States and second in the world. It has shopping, restaurants, and top-rated golf. with the Ram’s Hill course among the top ten courses in the United States. 

Asked to name some of the best annual events, Rhodes said Borrego offers the farmers’ market, big art shows, art festivals, film festivals, and night sky tours as well as the signature annual event, the Borrego Days desert festival and parade. The community also has a variety of desert tours including jeep tours and night sky tours. 

Ron Bissinger, an Anza Borrego Park volunteer, recommended that if it is your first visit, be sure to stop by the park’s visitors’ center so that they share tips on what to see. There are over 500 miles of dirt roads and hikes everywhere in the park. The most popular hike is Palm Canyon Trail, which is about an hour round-trip. On this trail, many have even seen bighorn sheep as well as palm trees  and running water. It is a hike for families and beginners. 

There are also different places to travel to from your car so that you can stay in the cool air conditioning. Bissinger mentioned, “If it ends in -ology, you will find it here,” which includes a lot for geologists, archaeologists and even ornithologists  to enjoy. Lastly, Bissinger said that they offer guided and short nature walks and tours that will explain different plants and birds along the way. They are also ADA-compliant hikes and walkways for disabled people to use, so that everyone can enjoy this desert oasis. 

Mike McElhatton, who is the educational program director for the educational non-profit Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) has been working there for 11 years. They host about 150 programs every year including hikes, four-wheel drive trips, and lectures every Friday and Saturday night during the desert season. The main part of the desert season is January, February, and March, though fall is also popular.

The Association has a wildflower website called which will show if there is a wildflower bloom, and the best time of year to go up and visit the flowers. There is also a demonstration garden behind the ABDNHA’s outlet in Borrego Springs, where you can also find gift stores with desert souvenirs, including the new Buds & Blooms Garden Shop.

South Palm Wash is McElhatton’s favorite location. It is located in the Badlands part of the desert, rugged canyonlands about 20 minutes from the park headquarters. He also likes Glorietta Canyon, which is close to Borrego Springs and looks like a desert garden with rocks, cacti, and flowers. Fonts Point is also very popular, but you must have a vehicle with good traction and four-wheel drive to make it out to this scenic overlook. 

Anza Borrego has something to offer for everyone. Click here to view our video presentation, which includes full interviews with those referenced above.


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