Beyond the Sculptures of Borrego

With several services and campgrounds, experience the natural wonders and exciting attractions in this California state park

Nestled between Julian’s historic gold mining town and the Salton Sea, Borrego Springs and the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offer several exceptional experiences. Located 85 miles northeast of San Diego and 85 miles south of Palm Springs, there are activities and natural attractions suited for many types of RVers. With 500 miles of dirt roads, a dozen wilderness areas, and miles of hiking trails you would expect some great adventures and you won’t be disappointed.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every day offers excitement in Borrego Springs from the beautiful sunrises and the star-studded night skies to where wildlife roams free and traffic jams don’t exist, Borrego Springs offers peace and tranquility. It’s not often realized by visitors until they leave, only to come back time after time.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bring Your Hiking Boots

Hiking is popular in the Anza-Borrego Desert and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The desert trails are not for the faint of heart but rather ideal for those with a sense of adventure. Remember, hydration is vital in this arid region and be sure to bring along plenty of water. The routes are not always well marked and cell service is almost non-existent.

Roadrunner in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hiking allows you to observe all the flora and fauna that thrives in this desert. Keep your eyes out for hares, coyotes, and roadrunners and there may be scorpions and snakes underfoot. Snakes including rattlers will let you know if you’re too close but just give them a wide berth.

>> Related article: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Badlands, Canyons, Mountain Peaks, and More

Also, be mindful of where you sit during a break to avoid scorpions, spiders, and fire-ants. Remember, cactus needles, too, can be painful if they are stepped on with thin-soled shoes like sandals or if you accidentally brush up against them.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visit by 4×4 Vehicle

Running an off-road rig is a great way to see Anza-Borrego and the place to visit is Font’s Point. Vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive are a must to get to this area. Font’s Point leads through 4 miles of swift sand that can be challenging but the reward is stunning landscapes to admire.

Beware of the dry washes that create demanding conditions of soft sand, deep mud, or washouts. Being stranded in the desert wilderness can be a harrowing experience and four-wheel drive vehicles are always recommended here.

>> Related article: Monsters in the Desert: Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Another option for an off-road experience (for more adventurous RVers) is the Pumpkin Patch OHV Trail, a 7 mile outback route located near Borrego Springs. Rated as moderate, it’s best enjoyed from November to March.

Galleta Meadows sculptures © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Galleta Meadows

A trip to Borrego Springs isn’t complete without visiting Galleta Meadows Sky Art Metal Sculptures and marveling at the full-size Ricardo Breceda sculptures. There are about 130 metal beasts and figures scattered among the desert. One of the most recognizable is the serpent that seems to cross under the road through the area. Others depict woolly mammoths, eagles, and gigantic insects. This is a great attraction for all ages and it’s best to drop by the Chamber of Commerce for a free map of the sculptures and a guide to the area.

Galleta Meadows sculptures © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Find Your Adventurous Side: Mud and Wind Caves

Located in the southern region of the park, Anza-Borrego’s Mud Caves are a popular attraction. They offer a glimpse into the distant past and a true sense of adventure. A departure from developed caves with handrails and area lighting, this is where you can meander through all-natural passages and explore giant caverns.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its rich geological history, the caves are where archeologists discovered fossils of mammoths and saber tooth tigers. While a fascinating experience exploring this natural attraction can be risky. Wet weather causes the mud walls to erode and even walking on top of the caves may be enough weight for them to collapse underfoot. Explore with caution during and after rainy conditions.

>> Related article: Desert Solitude: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Another natural highlight is the wind caves that overlook the Carrizo Badlands. They may not be as impressive as those found in Arches National Park but they are formed the same way. Wind-blowing abrasive sand against the rock outcroppings scoured away the surfaces creating sweeping arches, bridges, and depressions which ultimately eroded through to form natural arches.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petrified Forest

This ancient, arid area belies a lush valley that once occupied rich woodlands, flowing rivers, and streams. It became inundated by the encroachment of the Colorado River Delta and the mineral-rich waters seeped into the fallen trees before they evolved into stone. The remains of the trees are now exposed by the windswept sand. While tempting, do not take the rocks. They are protected by federal, state, and regional park laws. Removing or disturbing these resources is forbidden.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Explore on Foot

You can even purchase an Open Studio Membership to express your artistic skills during hours when studio monitors are available for questions and guidance. There is full use of the entire pottery studio, including the wheels.

Wander the Gallery to admire the creations of local artists that are available for purchase and be sure to stroll through ArtPark. It consists of a creative blend of community gardens, orchards, and stunning desert scapes.

Christmas Circle, Borrego Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Satisfy Your Appetite

There are a variety of dining choices in Borrego Springs but Carlee’s Place is quite literally an oasis in the desert. The pickup trucks and motorcycles parked outside are a testament to the quality of food and service. Try the homemade gazpacho that brims with perfectly cooked grilled shrimp and seasoned with cilantro…in the desert!

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Silent, Sparkling Nights

Borrego Springs isn’t known for its nightlife or at least not the club kind.  However, it is an area that should be explored well after the sun sets. Borrego is an International Dark Sky Community that was designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Stargazing is encouraged.

>> Related article: Borrego Springs: Stars, Art and Citrus in a Laidback Desert Town

There is no need for a telescope and the brilliantly lit skies will awe anyone who hasn’t been out of the dome of a city glow. Billions of stars make themselves known and form many prominent constellations.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved


The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course, Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort, the Leapin Lizard RV Ranch, and Palm Canyon Campground in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are excellent options for exploring the area.

No matter your home base there are several ways to discover this unique snowbird destination. Stay for a week or a month, you’ll no doubt learn all about the community and natural attractions among the scenic California desert landscape.

Palm Canyon Campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

There are not many places in the world where you can get to the beach in an hour, the desert in two hours, and snowboarding or skiing in three hours. You can do all that in California.

—Alex Pettyfer