There is tons to see and do in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in the state of California. Last year we enjoyed some hiking and drove to Borrego Springs to see the fabulous Galleta Meadows sculptures.
This year, we’re taking some time to work on Hector’s photography website while enjoying our beautiful campsite. But we have managed a few outings. Starting with the small but pretty good quality farmers market in town on Fridays. We’re big fans of farmers markets so we sample them whenever we can.
In addition to the farmers market, there are roadside stands selling juicy grapefruits and oranges cheap. They aren’t staffed and use the honor system of payment – I love that.
We also managed a little exploring. There is a small hike to a stone snake that some inventive folks created in the middle of the desert. It’s not a marked trail, but our friend Nina posted coordinates on her blog.
We took Angel along, and headed out with Vince and Spencer to the Pegleg Campground, which also has free boondocking. Pegleg, a famous prospector, is said to have discovered black gold pebbles somewhere on the east side of the park. The location of his lost gold mine hasn’t been discovered, but a monument to the prospector stands here along with a pile of stones. New prospectors are asked to add ten stones for luck on their hunt.
The trail turned out to be too rocky for Angel and though Hector and Vince continued up they unfortunately were unsuccessful at figuring out the right path to the snake. One of several groups that had an unsuccessful first attempt. They had no luck finding Pegleg’s gold either.
Another day we decided to try to find the snake with Iain and Kate. This time we’d actually spotted a flag that marks the snake from another side of the desert so we had a better idea of our route. And this time we were successful! The snake is about thirty feet long and must have seemed very lonely, as some people have created a couple of companion animals – a turtle and a lobster.
An outing that many people recommended was a drive out to Font’s Point for sunset. The drive requires a high clearance vehicle, so our little car wouldn’t make it. But Vince was interested in going, and we headed out in his four-wheel drive truck – a very nice ride!
The truck made the four-mile drive on semi-soft sand very comfy. As we rode up the road, the landscape around us began to change, until we reached the top and found ourselves looking down into an amphitheatre of badlands. Stunning.
We were there just before sunset on the advice of others. Unfortunately some dark clouds hovered immediately in front of the sun, so it was a pretty subtle sunset. But the view is spectacular sunset or no sunset.
We also drove out to the Clark Dry Lake bed and walked around with Angel for a bit. It rained the day before – or what passes here as a rain that is, so there were a few slightly soft spots, but the lake bed is pretty amazing.
There is lots of room for Angel to explore.
Another quick exploration trip recommended by our friends Vince and Spencer was the Cactus Loop Nature Trail, south of town across from the Tamarisk Grove Campground. This short (one-mile) but rocky loop has abundant cacti throughout. The area has the most cacti we’ve seen in one place since the Organ Pipe National Monument.
The loop has several side trails that are pretty interesting. On the north is the Pinyon Ridge, where we spotted lots of Peninsular big-horn sheep near a stand of barrel cactus, a favorite of the sheep. Borrego is the name of these sheep in Spanish, hence the name of the park. We saw more sheep heading for the top of a hill as we continued our walk around the loop.
Chuparosa shrub is found throughout the trails. Its flowers attract many hummingbirds in spring, though some stay year round. We heard them buzzing about and spotted a couple.
Other plants found here are beavertail cactus, teddy bear cholla, hedgehog cactus, fishhook cactus, agave, brittlebrush and lots of striking ocotillo, many of which had green leaves. A super fun little trail.
When Pam and John arrived in town, they suggested an early drive in their jeep to Font’s Point to enjoy snacks and drinks at the top before sunset. The amphitheatre in the badlands was fully lit by the sun at this earlier time in the afternoon, even more spectacular than on our previous visit. We set up chairs and tables and basked in the view.
After spending some time there, Hector realized he didn’t have a memory card in his camera. This is the first time he does that, and hopefully the last. But he always has extras, so he managed to capture a few photos of us in the post-sunset light.
Most of our friends had left and our tanks were almost at capacity, so it was time for us to go. Saying goodbye to this desert and this beautiful boondocking spot was tough (check out my review of the camping area here).
But off we went to the town of El Centro for a little more desert time with friends and some provisioning.
And we look forward to returning to Anza Borrego.