CATCH STARRY SKIES, A DESERT DRAGON & BARREN BADLANDS AT ANZA-BORREGO
TRIP · 3-day camping trip
FOR · Friends & first-time campers
VIBE · Moderate & fun
COST · $
DRIVE · 3 hours from LA & 1.5 hours from San Diego
RESERVATIONS · Yes, book a site at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
IDEAL DATES · October - April (January - March for wildflowers)
PETS · Welcome at camp & on roads, but not on trails
WHY ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK?
First, it's the largest state park in California. Anza-Borrego SP is 600,000+ acres whereas Sequoia National Park is 328,000+ acres. With 12 wilderness areas & 110 miles of hiking trails, Anza-Borrego has numerous places to explore. Secondly, the park is an "International Dark Sky Park," which means it's an incredible place to stargaze. Finally, just outside of the park is Galleta Meadows, a private refuge for 130 towering metal structures created by artist Ricardo Breceda. It's on private property, but you can check out these art sculptures anytime, and you should! Anza-Borrego SP & its surrounding area is an experience like no other.
BOOK A CAMPSITE AT BORREGO PALM CANYON CAMPGROUND
Anza Borrego has four developed campgrounds: Tamarisk Grove, Vern Whitaker Horse Camp, Bow Willow & Borrego Palm Canyon, along with eight "primitive' campgrounds that don't have running water. Borrego Palm Canyon is the largest campground with 122 reservable sites & a bunch of amenities. You can buy firewood, take hot showers, and sit underneath shade ramadas throughout the campground. It's a perfect spot for first-time campers & families who are trying out desert camping.
Check-in: After 2 PM | Check-out: Before noon
Quite hours: 10 PM - 6 AM
Nightly fee: $25
EACH CAMPSITE COMES WITH:
- A picnic table
- Fire ring
- Space for up to 8 people
- One car & one trailer (each additional vehicle is $10)
- Trash collection (on site)
- Restrooms (on site)
LEAVE LA & SWING BY SPROUTS FARMERS MARKET TO PICK UP GROCERIES
- Located at 32413 Temecula Parkway, Suite 300, in Temecula
- Open from 7 AM - 10 PM everyday
- It's an hour drive away from camp
- LAST PIT STOP · X L Co - 525 Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs
- Before you reach camp, stop by Montezuma Valley Road Lookout to take in desert vistas.
CHECK-IN & SET UP CAMP AT BORREGO PALM CANYON CAMPGROUND
- Buy a bundle (or two) of firewood from the camp host. Always try to buy firewood locally!
- Set up your tent & familiarize yourself with the campground
SCRAMBLE UP TO PANORAMA OVERLOOK TO WATCH THE SUNSET
- This is a 1.6 mile round trip hike with 641 feet of elevation
- You can walk to the trailhead from camp. Give yourself at least 45 minutes to scramble up there before sunset, and bring your headlamp! There are loose rocks so watch your step.
RETURN TO CAMP TO COOK DINNER
ENJOY THE CAMPFIRE, S'MORES & STARGAZING
- Temperatures can get down to the low 40s in Anza-Borrego State Park pack layers & cozy around the campfire to stay warm
STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
There's a $10 day use fee for each car, but it's included if you reserve a campsite!
The first palm grove in Borrego Palm Canyon is closed due to fire damage. Here's a map of where you can access.
Rattlesnakes call the desert home. You'll likely avoid them when you're hiking on the trail, but watch your step whenever you go off-trail & stay alert!
Borrego Springs is a major stopover for Swainson's Hawks migrating from Argentina to their breeding grounds north of the town
EAT A QUICK BREKKIE & DRIVE TO FONT'S POINT TRAILHEAD FOR A SUNRISE HIKE**
- From camp, it's a 15-minute drive to Fonts Point Trailhead. If you have a 4WD, you'll be able to drive along the dirt trail to reach the viewpoint. If you don't, no worries, make this a morning hike :)
- It's a 7.9 mile round-trip hike with 547 feet of elevation gain, but the trail is sandy so prepare for a bit of a workout.
- Reach the trailhead by 4 AM to reach the top by sunrise. You'll be rewarded with truly spectacular views of the Borrego Badlands, a 20 x 15 mile stretch of rocky terrain & sunken mesas caused by erosion.
- Bring your headlamp, dress warmly & download an offline trail map to stay on track while hiking in the dark. Enjoy the stars!
**Another popular time to hike Font's Point is before sunset. You'll be hiking back in the dark, but if you're not an early bird & you're visiting during the winter season, then sunset works too!
VISIT GALLETA MEADOWS ON YOUR WAY BACK TO CAMP
- Walk through these giant, Jurrasic art sculptures. Take your best IG photo & tag @underthesunfoundation, the official steward of Galleta Meadows.
RETURN TO CAMP & HAVE A PICNIC LUNCH
- Nosh on your favorite snacks & chill after today's morning hike.
CHILLAX AT CAMP, OR IF YOU'RE FEELING AMBITIOUS, DRIVE TO THE SLOT TRAILHEAD
- It's about a 25-minute drive from camp to The Slot. It's an unmarked trail so use these GPS coordinates 33.18213, -116.21417.
- This hike is a 2.3 mile loop with 300 feet of elevation gain. It takes you through winding, narrow slot canyons, which if you haven't experienced before is worth checking out!
- It's a dirt/sand road to the trailhead. It's doable in most AWD cars but drive cautiously and be mindful of the weather
RETURN TO CAMP FOR DINNER, DESSERT & CAMPFIRE STORIES
- Enjoy your last night at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!
PACK UP, CLEAN UP & CHECK OUT BY NOON
- Cook up brekkie & pick up any pieces of litter around camp
PAY IT FORWARD LIKE BEZZI
Your outdoor experiences helps people have a safe & memorable time in nature. Share your knowledge about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park below & tag us @bewilder_camp if you used this itinerary!
LAST UPDATED: October 19, 2021
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