- 585930 acres
- Borders three counties, Riverside, San Diego, and Imperial.
- 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 designated wilderness areas, 110 miles of hiking trails.
- Home of the endangered peninsular big horned sheep.
While in Anza Borrego State Park it is easy to feel as if you are in a science fiction novel. It is a living vision of a dystopian world filled with metal beasts, barren waste lands, and sun baked arroyos. There are even renegade bands of motorcycle gangs that kick up storms of dust in the mud hills. You could spend years exploring all the nooks and crannies of the park. There are slot canyons, tie dyed badlands, and palm oases. at the center of it all is the cute and unspoiled town of Borrego Springs which has no idea how cool it is.
Arid places are the most colorful. In the harsh environment not much can take a foothold on the the steep rocky slope. When there is no vegetation on the hillsides the rocks and minerals that make up the mountains become more prominent. You can clearly see the fault lines, veins of quartz, and in the moments after sunset all the hills glow, reflecting the pink and purple of the sky like a harlot in her desert dove makeup.
Our campsite overlooked the badlands, an area of geological wrinkles which light up like fire in the sun.From our desert perch we could see the silhouettes of people watching the sunset from the popular Fonts Point overlook. Lucky for us we found a slightly more hidden spot to watch the sunlight fade away and had the whole view to ourselves. I am by no means a morning person but I was able to raise my sleepy little head early enough to watch the sun rise and light the badlands on fire with its glow.
I’ve debated outlining the places we went and the things we saw in the park but I think that may take some of the magic away from this place. We went with no real set plan; its true we had read about some of the highlights and areas to check out but we never looked up how to get there or had a set itinerary. We used the very helpful $2 park map and simply drove to points of interest exploring rugged 4×4 trails as we went. The one feature I have to share is the sandstone formations that are passed on the way to the calcite mines. The ancient stone is riddled with windows, holes, and small caves. From afar the buttresses and cliffs look like dwellings from a extraterrestrial desert planet, as you get closer you cant help but feel like creatures are watching you from the rocks. The land of the sandpeople.
There are many myths and legends that surround Anza Borrego Park, one of the most intriguing is the legend of the pearl ship of Juan de Iturbe. The story goes that in 1615 Spanish Explore Juan de Itrube sailed up the gulf of California in a ship laden with pearls and spanish gold. His ship was taken by a tidal bore into Lake Cahullia where the shallow bottomed boat became stranded. Juan de Itrube was left with no choice but to abandon the boat and its treasure in the rapidly drying salt flats to be swallowed by the sands of time. There are some that believe the ship and its treasure can still be found if you are willing to wander the desert looking for it.
Anza Borrego is a beautiful park. It is easy to imagine you are on another planet or in an alternate reality. You may return home with images of iron dragons and road warriors in you head, at the very least you will return with dust on your skin and the colors of a desert sunrise burned onto the backs of your eyelids.