Borrego Springs Stories

Boulder-hop to the top of Granite Mountain, overlooking the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Granite Mountain massively swells along the western edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert, its flattish summit presiding over hundreds of square miles of brown desert to the east and the timber-dotted Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains toward ...

Last summer's flash flood in Borrego Palm Canyon paved the way for easier access into the canyon's upper reaches.

For now and for the next several years, the normally slow and painstaking trek ambitious hikers make into the middle and upper reaches of Borrego Palm Canyon will be considerably easier. Much of the impeding ...

Descend on the Jasper Trail from Anza-Borrego's cool, western margins to the warm desert floor.

The 11-mile-long Jasper Trail-Grapevine Canyon route takes hikers and all sorts of wheeled travelers -- on mountain bikes and motorcycles, or in off-road-capable vehicles -- down a series of inclines from Anza-Borrego's cooler western margins ...

Descend from the high desert to low desert on Anza-Borrego's California Riding and Hiking Trail.

The old, never-completed California Riding and Hiking Trail, pieced out of dirt roadways and previously existing trails during the post-World War II years, has never quite disappeared from San Diego County. One branch of this ...

Seek out rare elephant trees in Anza-Borrego's Torote Canyon.

Dozens of elephant trees cling to the walls of Torote Canyon, a tributary of Indian Gorge in the southern reaches of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In Mexico, this tree is called torote, which means "twisted," ...

Discover "The Slot" and colorful Hawk Canyon at Borrego Mountain in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Amid the windswept wastelands of the Anza-Borrego Desert, Borrego Mountain's twin buttes (the East and West buttes) rise with low and broad profiles. From a distance they may look unremarkable, but at close range they ...

Best of 2003: Best Cacti Sighting

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park www.anzaborrego.statepark.org 760-767-4684, 760-767-4205 Cactus heaven can be found on the rocky slopes of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, especially at elevations of 1000 to 2000 feet. In March and April you'll be ...

Savor the view from lofty Alcoholic Pass in the Anza-Borrego Desert

Centuries-old paths, forged by the footsteps of Native-Americans, crisscross the county. West of the desert, periodic fires and fast-growing chaparral have erased the obvious traces of most of these trails. Yet in the drier, more ...

Explore palm groves and trickling streams in the upper reaches of Anza-Borrego's Bow Willow Canyon.

Winding fjordlike through the boulder heaps of the arid In-Ko-Pah Mountains, Bow Willow Canyon promises -- and delivers -- solitude. During a weekday-morning's exploratory venture into Bow Willow's moist upper recesses, no one disturbed my ...

Seek out waterfalls and fire-following wildflowers in Anza-Borrego's upper Borrego Palm Canyon.

The remote and rugged upper reach of Anza-Borrego's most famous "palm canyon," Borrego Palm Canyon, has suddenly become much easier to explore. Last summer's mammoth Pines Fire, which originated near Julian, swept many miles north ...

Check out the green, soon-to-blossom Anza-Borrego Desert vegetation on the trails near Yaqui Pass.

Throughout the Anza-Borrego Desert, the expandable tissues of native barrel, beavertail, cholla, fishhook, and hedgehog cacti may soon become as bloated as they ever get. Flush with supplies of water they can hoard for months ...

Sixty-four miles of bicycling bliss await you on Anza-Borrego's Highway S-2.

Road-biking doesn't get any better than on San Diego County's remote mountain and desert rural highways -- especially those beyond Palomar and Julian, where traffic thins considerably and the roads themselves are often accompanied by ...

Poke around Anza-Borrego's Blair Valley for evidence of historic and prehistoric human habitation.

As September grades into October and the sun swings ever lower across the southern sky, the high-desert landscape around Anza-Borrego's Blair Valley becomes comfortable enough for an early-season visit. It's warm, dry, and desolate out ...

Navigate through boulders and pinyon pines to the mile-high summit of Whale Peak in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

If you've put off a visit to the local desert this season due to poor wildflower prospects, it's not too late, or too hot, for a rewarding visit to Whale Peak. This gently swelling summit, ...

Your Dad Arrested My Dad

For most people who live "down the hill," as San Diego's backcountry residents refer to everything west of the mountains, the thought of living "on the mountain" usually ends when the subject of work arises. ...

Best of 2001: Best Ufo Sightings

Borrego Springs Anza Borrego Desert State Park www.borregosprings.com To paraphrase The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Outer space is big. Really, really, big." Buildings, trees, and lights obscure our view of the big sky, unless ...

Ramble with map and compass amid the tortured landscape of Palm Wash in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Thousands of years of cutting and polishing by flash floods and winds have produced the intricate rock formations and slot-like ravines you'll discover at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains in far-eastern San Diego ...

Take a spin on a bicycle over the flat roads of Borrego Valley.

The sun-blasted desert days of summer are over, and Borrego Springs now boasts salubrious temperatures along with its bone-dry air. This community of several thousand residents (in the winter season, at least) squarely placed in ...

Blackout

Despite boasting one of the nation's sunniest climates, despite laboring under towering electricity rates, San Diego County isn't home to a single solar energy plant. It's not that we haven't tried. A 20-acre solar farm ...

Get up-close and personal with boulder stacks in the southernmost reaches of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Drive an hour east on Interstate 8 from San Diego toward El Centro and you won't fail to be impressed by the enormous stacks of rounded boulders thrusting skyward over the high-desert landscape. How did ...

Hike alongside a bubbling stream in Anza-Borrego's Oriflamme Canyon to reach a 15-foot waterfall.

Oriflamme Canyon's gurgling waters are borne to the open air high on the east slope of the Laguna Mountains. For five miles they trickle over polished granite and schist bedrock, tumble over small waterfalls, and ...

Seek out evidence of prehistoric landslides at Anza-Borrego's Split Mountain.

So crazy is the juxtaposition of rock formations at Anza-Borrego's Split Mountain that it makes your head spin. You can't help being amazed at the appearance of orderly sedimentary rock layers in one spot, curved ...

Best of 2000: Best Dry Lake

Borrego Sink Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Where does the water that falls on Borrego Springs and the Borrego Valley go? Most of it sinks quickly into the desert sand. In times of rare flood, the ...

Discover desert fan palms in their native, oasis-like habitats at Anza-Borrego's Mountain Palm Springs.

The area called Mountain Palm Springs in southern Anza-Borrego Desert State Park cannot lay claim to the largest palm oases in our local desert, but it does feature some of the most charming ones. The ...

Visit Anza-Borrego's Mortero Palms, and make the arduous trek to the giant San Diego and Arizona Eastern railroad trestle if you dare.

As temperatures cool in the desert east of San Diego, campers and hikers are again fanning out over the spacious 1000 square miles of territory in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. If it's solitude you're looking ...

August rains bring September and October flowers to Coachwhip Canyon and other sites in the Anza-Borrego Desert

Dark thunderclouds moved into Borrego Valley on the afternoon of August 29, terrorizing residents of Borrego Springs with 70 mph gusts of wind and a downpour of one and one-half inches of rain in less ...

Climb to the top of Anza-Borrego's Sunset Mountain, the peak that warmly glows in late-afternoon light.

Sunset Mountain stands lofty and somewhat isolated from the main ridge of the Vallecito Mountains in the center of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. As seen from Borrego Springs and other far points to the west, ...

After an arduous drive into Anza-Borrego's Coyote Canyon, explore the waterfalls and grottos of Sheep Canyon

Hard-to-reach Sheep Canyon, secreted in the remote middle reaches of Coyote Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, features some of the most rugged yet beautiful terrain in San Diego County. The canyon has two main ...

Climb Coyote Mountain for a comprehensive view of Borrego Valley and its desert environs

The desolate ridge of Coyote Mountain rises like the dark, furrowed flank of an elephant over the sand-drowned Borrego and Clark Valleys in the north part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Scattered amid slabs of ...

Discover rich fossil-shell "reefs" after a hike through Anza-Borrego's Mud Hills Wash

This five-mile walk, in the low-lying, desolate, dry Carrizo Badlands of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, takes you to fossil shell "reefs" so dense with fossils that fossilized shells and shell fragments outweigh the sandy matrix ...

Scale Indianhead peak, passing groves of native palms in Borrego Palm Canyon along the way

Indianhead, a 3990-foot promontory crowning the north wall of Borrego Palm Canyon, juts dramatically from the desert floor near Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego visitor center. There are several climbing routes to Indianhead's summit but ...

Hike into a box canyon by way of Anza-Borrego's Palo Verde Wash.

With midday temperatures declining into the 80s this month and next, the vast spaces of the Anza-Borrego Desert are again becoming attractive places to explore. For the following hike up Palo Verde Canyon in the ...

Enjoy scenic vistas of the Borrego Badlands from Font's Point in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Like crepuscular creatures emerging at dawn and dusk to seek their prey, photographers are drawn to Anza-Borrego's Font's Point vista early and late in the day, seeking warm, low-angle light. Font's Point overlooks a shockingly ...

Explore a geologic hodgepodge and an intriguing slot ravine at Anza-Borrego's Canyon Sin Nombre.

As daytime high temperatures in the desert sink from the 100s into the 90s during September, it becomes rationally conceivable to plan an overnight trip into Anza-Borrego's intriguing badlands. In fact, if you arrive in ...

Take a short hike to secluded Big Spring in Tubb Canyon, overlooking Borrego Valley.

Big Spring, tucked in a tributary of Tubb Canyon on the west side of Borrego Valley, is one of the more reliable water producers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. As such, it is an ...

Panoramic views prevail atop Pinyon Ridge, overlooking Borrego Springs and much of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Pinyon Ridge stands just high enough on the Anza-Borrego desert rim -- and therefore gets just enough rain -- to support a sparse growth of pinyon-pine trees. Hiking along this ridge, you get expansive views ...

A trek up rugged Flat Cat Canyon, near Anza-Borrego's visitor center, tests hikers' mettle.

Flat Cat Canyon is the curious name given to a rugged gorge southwest of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitors' center and not far outside the town of Borrego Springs. Park rangers once found a ...

Anza-Borrego's Smoke Tree Canyon twists its way into the barren flanks of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Stark and barren, yet glorious in their nakedness, Anza-Borrego's skeletal mountain ranges conceal more than they reveal to casual passersby. If you want to know them better, you must leave the security of the automotive ...

Mine Wash of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Tranquil Mine Canyon and its several tributaries slash deep into the Pinyon Mountains of central Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Day after day, year after year, the parched ravines and boulder-splintered hillsides lie open to the ...

Hike Anza-Borrego's Rockhouse Canyon to where rock-house ruins sit within a forgotten valley.

Straddling the San Diego: Riverside County line, Rockhouse Canyon and the broad, sloping alluvial basin drained by it -- informally known as Rockhouse Valley -- constitute one of Southern California's truly forgotten places. Not much ...

Anza-Borrego's Lower Willows, now closed to motor-vehicle access, is reverting to wilderness.

Anza-Borrego's Coyote Canyon, northwest of Borrego Springs, sustains the only dependably year-round stream in San Diego County's desert quarter. Near the lower end of the canyon, soggy Lower Willows, along with its primary source of ...

Hike through the dry confines of Anza-Borrego's Harper Canyon and emerge in spacious Harper Flat.

A long and leisurely ramble up the sinuous course of Harper Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park leads hikers to Harper Flat, a four-square-mile valley hidden from casual view by rock-strewn ridges and peaks. The ...

Hike to Anza-Borrego's Calcite Mine, where optical-grade calcite crystals were extracted during World War II

Thousands of years of cutting and polishing by water and wind erosion have produced the chaotic rock formations and slotlike ravines you'll discover in Anza-Borrego's Calcite Mine area. During World War II, this was an ...

Scramble up to the rocky summit of Sombrero Peak from Indian Valley in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Sombrero Peak rises head and shoulders above the southern margins of the Anza-Borrego Desert, overlooking a hundred-square-mile expanse of rock-strewn mountains and gorges, sun-baked valleys, and distant badlands. Conversely, the peak itself is a prominent ...

Hike to the summit of the Pinyon Mountains in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The early-autumn sun continues to scorch the desert's lowest elevations, yet it far more kindly illuminates the 4000-foot plateau of Pinyon Mountain Valley, high amid Anza-Borrego's central mountain range -- the Vallecito Mountains. Eighty-degree days ...

Culp Valley, in the high desert of Anza-Borrego, offers hiking and camping.

While most of the Anza-Borrego Desert swelters, the temperature hovers as much as 10š Fahrenheit cooler at the "high desert" locale of Culp Valley, 3400 feet above sea level. Culp Valley is the only designated ...

Enjoy bird and wildlife watching in the desert at Agua Caliente County Park's Squaw Pond

With nothing civilized around it for miles, Agua Caliente County Park/Campground feels like a true oasis amid the vast and desolate dry lands of the Anza-Borrego Desert. Tucked against the skeletal Tierra Blanca Mountains, the ...

Villager Peak

Villager and Rabbit peaks remain difficult and remote hiking destinations.

Spotted with weather-beaten piñon pines, Villager Peak in the southern Santa Rosa Mountains rises nearly a mile above the lowlands of Anza-Borrego Desert. Serious “peak baggers” from around the state are drawn to its summit, ...

Coyote. Tarantula. Silence. Sea.

The four corners of San Diego County.

“San Diego? This isn’t a county, it’s a country!” This how it starts. Dave, sounding off after a couple of beers. Dave’s latest rave is San Diego County. You might call him a county nationalist. ...

Treading Near the Edge

Their plan was to start at Toro Peak, in the Santa Rosa Mountains just north of Borrego Springs, hike along the mountainous spine over Rabbit Peak and Villager Peak, then down through Rattlesnake Canyon to ...

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