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The Anza-Borrego Desert - Worth the Sweat

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

When the AC goes out in your car the desert is probably the last place you’ll think of driving to, but when that place is on your list of faves, you pack a bunch of water and do the drive because in the end, it’s worth every little bead of sweat. That’s the Anza-Borrego desert for me.

Its unique attractions and dark sky viewing opportunities are just a few reasons why this park tops my list of favorite destinations in San Diego County. It’s only 90 minutes from San Diego and 121 from LA - both totally doable when planning a weekend getaway.


Plus, it’s California’s Largest State Park so there’s plenty to do and see. Hiking, off-roading, art, stargazing - this place has all the things.


 

BORREGO SPRINGS

Borrego Springs is a small desert community that neighbors Anza-Borrego State Park. Unless you're backcountry camping, you’re most likely staying here. There are a few restaurants, a legit taco shop, and a market for any last-minute needs. It’s not a full-on grocery store though, so if you need a lot of supplies I recommend shopping before you get here.



 

STAY:

PALM CANYON HOTEL AND RV RESORT

When you’re getting the ‘hell outta dodge’, why not stay in a hotel designed to look like an old western town? This place is clean with all the amenities. Most importantly AC and two pools because after walking around in the desert heat, you’ll need a space to cool off. I have yet to stay anywhere else, this place draws me in Every. Single. Time. It's the perfect mix of kitsch and comfort.



Remember in Home Alone when Kevin McCallister gets psyched about having his very own Cheese Pizza? That’s how I feel about an empty pool - and if you’re the only one crazy enough to sunbath in 122* heat then you get one all to yourself. Cool off with your favorite beverage while you reel in the sights of the town.



If hotels aren’t your jam and you’re looking for something a little more “glampy”, rent out one of their vintage airstream trailers. These cuties come with their own little perks too (private fire pit and bbq)



FIND ME:

221 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004

*Reservations Recommended

 

EAT:

RED OCOTILLO - BREAKFAST

Start your day off at The Red Ocotillo, a cute organic garden to table restaurant in Borrego Springs. Order the Peg Leg Breakfast - 2 slices of French Toast, Two Eggs, Two Sausage Links (or Bacon).


Who’s Pegleg? Make your way to his monument after eating this meal and find out. *Bring Rocks*


721 Ave Sureste, Borrego Springs, CA 92004



LOS JILBERTOS

There's a 'Bertos in every inch of San Diego County, even in the middle of the desert! If you're from San Diego you'll understand where I'm coming from, if not, just note this as a legit taco shop that you need to try, no matter what those yelpers say.


655 Palm Canyon Dr F, Borrego Springs, CA 92004


CARLEES

Carlees has quality food with those great dive bar vibes. I love ending my night here after a full day of exploring.


660 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004


 

SEE:

GALLETA MEADOWS

Prehistoric metal creatures - say no more. The sculptures of Galleta Meadows pepper the desert landscape with bronze metal works of art, a must-see!



From afar, these metal beauties glisten in the sun, but up close you can see the intricate details artist Ricardo Breceda has put into each sculpture. (The fur on the sloths is insane!) Fan favorites include the 350ft Dragon and the Giant Scorpion, but if you have 4WD I suggest checking out some of the other hidden gems that are off the beaten path a bit.


There are over 130 metal art sculptures to explore around the park - some strategically placed to perfectly frame the Milky Way. Worthy of some creative photo ops - you know what movie I'm fueling here...


FIND ME:

A printed map of all sculptures can be picked up outside the town Welcome Center at 786 Palm Canyon Drive.



PEG LEG SMITH MONUMENT

Peg Leg Smith (1801-1866) was a fur trapper, prospector, and notorious liar with claims to have found gold but was unable to ever recover it.



In 1947 desert artist Harry Oliver created the original monument and is also responsible for the annual Peg Leg Liars Contest still going strong today. NO JOKE!



"Let those who seek Peg Leg's gold add ten rocks to this pile"

Quirky roadstoppers will enjoy this random piece of history and it’s pretty easy to find if you follow these directions.



FIND ME:

8 mi E on Hwy 22, couple miles past airport, as Pegleg Road curves east, fork left onto Henderson Canyon Road. Pile and monument is a few hundred yards on right.


 

LOOK UP!!!!

Anza- Borrego is an official Dark Sky Park, so if you aren’t burning the midnight oil to stargaze then I must say you are doing this trip all wrong. These views are hard to beat around here.


  • FONTS POINT

    • You’ll need 4WD to get to this spot. Totally worth the views.


Fonts Point Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004


  • CLARK DRY LAKE

    • “Roads” can get a little confusing to this area - scout it before heading out at night.



Borrego Springs, CA 92004

 

So, what are you waiting for?

48 hours might be just enough but if you can take the heat, why not stay in the kitchen a few more days.


 

***WARNING***

BEWARE OF COWBOYS











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