Camping Facilities in a Park where 99% Is Free!
Being the largest state park inside California, Anza Borrego has the wonderful attraction of wide open landscapes to explore, abundant dirt roads to tour, and free camping in very diverse terrain. Located in SoCal, this desert has lots to offer the outdoor enthusiasts, all year round.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California state park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and “borrego”, the Spanish word for sheep.
A recent reviewer said:
“Anza Borrego is magnificent! If you have a 4wd, you have to check out Font’s Point, especially at sunset or sunrise. Awe-inspiring vista! the Galetta Meadows metal sculptures sprinkled throughout the town of Borrego Springs are a magnificent treasure hunt.”
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This is Southern California’s inland low desert. It’s an interesting region that offers activities ranging from hiking, camping, sightseeing, culture, and history. You can visit all of the areas in this article in 2-4 days, depending on how much time you want to spend in each place. But, Anza Borrego desert state park is a place that must be visited more than once to really take in all the beauty it has to offer.
Anza Borrego by Tom Hilton via Flickr
Anza-Borrego desert state park offers a wide range of free activities to enhance visitors’ knowledge and enjoyment of the desert. View the upcoming park events to see what’s available during your visit! There are even naturalist talks during which presentations by volunteer naturalists take place at the visitor center.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park – Campgrounds
Free campgrounds are available to experience the joys of freedom of RV life in a place which is truly wild desert. The park includes some of the hottest locations in the U.S. Free-range camping is generally allowed within Anza-Borrego desert state park, but as already indicated here, there are also campgrounds. There are also recognized trails. More information about all of the above trails, as well as a (somewhat useless), is available on the map of the national park.
The state park offers a handful of developed campgrounds across the area. They are replete with amenities, and welcome tents and vehicle campers. At the middle levels of comfort, these campgrounds excel with their multiple free vehicle camping locations. There is no boondocking or camping allowed within the city of Borrego Springs, Ca. There is an area along Peg Leg Road (see best places for boondocking in Anza Borrego), northeast of the city limits, where many boondockers camp.
The Anza-Borrego Park management offers many free basic campsite options and outlines each of them in the park magazine. Although primitive, these campsites do have restrooms.
California Highway 78 cuts across Southern California and right through the middle of the park in the lower 48.
Hotels are also available so that after exploring enough of the Anza-Borrego desert state park for the day, you can return and settle back in at a hotel to take a break and overnight.
Anza Borrego by Tom Hilton via Flickr
Things to Do in Anza-Borrego Park
The park visitor center at the end of Palm Canyon drive is definitely worth a trip. The 7,000-sq. Ft. Facility is built underground with a beautifully landscaped desert garden as its roof.
The park has 500 mi (800 km) of dirt roads, 12 designated wilderness areas, and 110 mi (180 km) of hiking trails. Park information and maps are available in the visitor center.
The park has quite a few hiking trails of various levels and distance. Our favorites were the slot canyon and the palm canyon trails. The little town of Borrego Springs has a few hotels and several good restaurants.
Due to its size and the ruggedness of the landscape, deciding where to start exploring in Anza-Borrego can be daunting. A good first base of operations is the town of Borrego Springs.
Where is Borrego Springs?
Borrego Springs is the nearest town to Anza-Borrego, where you can find a place to stay, eat, or stock up on groceries. It’s also possible to visit Anza-Borrego on a long day trip from Palm Springs.
It is a tiny little town of a little over 3,500 desert-dwelling people in the middle of the Anza-Borrego desert state park. It’s 2 hours from San Diego and 90 minutes from Palm Springs.
What to see – scattered in the area around Borrego Springs are life-size metal sculptures of prehistoric animals that once roamed the Borrego Valley as well as mythical creatures and scenes of human life in the valley.
Where to stay – there are numerous hotels, motels and resorts in the town of Borrego Springs, just 5 miles south of the visitor’s center.
How to Get There
Your drive to Anza-Borrego desert state park will vary entirely on where in California you’re visiting from. All roads, however, will lead you to West S-22. From here, you’ll take the Palm Canyon Drive to the Anza-Borrego parking lot, located at 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, Ca 92004.
The trip from San Diego to Anza-Borrego takes about two hours. It’s a similar two-hour drive from both riverside and palm springs. It’s a pleasant drive with beautiful scenery and at most times, no traffic.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park – Stargazing
Gaze at the magical stars over Anza-Borrego park, one of the top 10 stargazing locations in America. Before you visit Anza-Borrego state park in Borrego Springs, check out this page fully for all the interesting facts about the park and start getting acquainted. The nearby town of Borrego Springs is the first international dark sky community in California. This means that the town has taken the necessary measures of reducing light pollution to allow for the most stars to be seen by the naked eye.
The desert oasis town is only a short trek away when you stay at the Mountain Palm Springs campground. Why you might want to stay there is that it’s only a short trek away from the refreshing palm grove. Reservations accepted: No. campsite types: tent, RVs, trailers, car camping RV hookups: No.
Borrego Springs by ryan harvey via Flickr
Located just a couple of miles west of Borrego Springs, the park’s main town, Borrego Palm Canyon is the most popular tourist area. One of the greatest trails in the desert runs through this canyon, while it also has arguably the best campground.
To approximate the battalion route, exit i-8 at the ocotillo, imperial county, exit (exit 89) and go north on the s2 or imperial highway. Follow s2 to its junction with sr 79.
Walking through the desert feels like walking in a botanical garden. That can either mean that there’s an incredible number of desert wildflowers and other hardy plants, or that botanical gardens do a fantastic job!
Desert bighorn sheep
The area is well-known for its desert bighorn sheep, in fact, the name “Anza-Borrego” comes from Borrego, the Spanish word for bighorn sheep, while Anza, the last name of Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish explorer who led an expedition into this desert in 1774, becoming the first non-native to do so.
Being the largest state park in California, Anza Borrego Desert State Park is surprisingly underrated. There are so many things to do here from giant metal sculptures, breathtaking landscapes and awesome hikes to off-roading through the rugged badlands that it must be worth a visit for most people who enjoy natural surroundings.