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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Visiting California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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  • Hours: Visitor center open 7 days a week, October through May, weekends July through September
  • Cost: State park entry fee
  • Location: Northeast of San Diego, south of Palm Springs. Driving directions below
  • How Long: From a couple of hours to all day
  • Best Time to Visit: Wildflowers bloom January through March. Summers can be extremely hot. Dark skies make any meteor shower a great time to be there.

Anza-Borrego is California's largest state park, 25 by 50 miles in size and ringed by mountains. It's also a World Biosphere Reserve.

Things to Do at Anza-Borrego Park

One of the best ways to find out about things to do in a state park is to stop in the visitor center and talk with the rangers, and Anza-Borrego is no exception. With more than 500 miles of roads and lots of places to go, it's hard for us to tell everyone what they'd enjoy in Anza-Borrego, so use them as the best resource to help plan your visit.

If you're just making a quick visit, the desert garden outside the Anza-Borrego State Park visitor center is a concentrated version of the park's 600,000 acres. Besides the desert plants, it also includes a pupfish pond. Pupfish can thrive water from fresh to nearly as salty as the ocean, and survive temperatures from near freezing to 108°F.

Many visitors come to Anza-Borrego for the wildflowers and cactus, which bloom from January through March. The quantity and timing of the bloom varies every year and your best bet is to check their website or call the wildflower hotline at 760-767-4684.

Anza-Borrego is also home to almost half the world's population of Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. the best time to see them is summer, when they're sometimes spotted in canyon bottoms or August through December during mating season.

Four-wheelers and mountain bikers will enjoy Anza-Borrego's 500 miles (804 km) of dirt roads. The park also has lots of hiking trails, some of which are part of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Palm Canyon Trail is popular with day hikers.

If you'd like to take a guided tour around the park, try California Overland.

Where to Stay in or Around Anza-Borrego State Park

Borrego Springs is the nearest town to Anza-Borrego, where you can find a place to stay, eat or stock up on groceries. It's also possible to visit Anza-Borrego on a long day trip from Palm Springs (1.5-hour drive each way) or San Diego (2-hour drive each way).

Inside Anza-Borrego Park, you'll find 3 developed campgrounds with accessible sites, hookups restrooms and showers. There's also an equestrian camp (10 sites) and 9 primitive campgrounds. Like all California state parks, it pays to plan ahead if you want to camp at Anza-Borrego. Learn how to make state park reservations.

Getting to Anza-Borrego Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 760-767-5311
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Website

Anza-Borrego is northeast of San Diego and south of Palm Springs, in the area bounded by CA Hwys 78, 86, 79 and 371. There are too many ways to get there to list all of them here. Consult a map or your GPS to get directions from your starting point to Anza-Borrego.

The drive from San Diego to Anza-Borrego is especially scenic, crossing the mountains and descending into the desert floor.

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