Hike into Palm Canyon
Probably one of the most popular types of hikes in the park. These trails lead to the palm-covered canyons that surround some water sources and sometimes waterfalls. You will see many desert flora on these trails and will notice how it changes with the elevation.
As I said, these trails are one of the busiest in the park, so start early or late. And don’t be deceived that it’s a palm canyon; on the hot summer day, you will be under extreme heat without any shade for most of the hike. Never hike in the hot weather; stay away from the desert on a Summer day.
We hiked popular 2.9 miles Borrego Palm Canyon. It was November, so no falls, but the canyon and the trail were stunning.
Other options to consider:
- Moderate 5.6 miles Maidenhair Falls via Hellhole Canyon to palm canyon and waterfall.
- Moderate 3.6 miles Indian Canyon Trail
- Easy 3 miles Mountain Palm Loop or it’s moderate version 5.6 miles Mountain Palm Spring Loop
Explore Anza-Borrego Botanic Garden
Anza-Borrego Botanic Garden near the park headquarters and visitor center is a nice place to explore native flora (and fauna) without wandering deep in the park. The parking could be limited in the colder seasons during the midday. We’ve hiked late right before sunset. It was quite so we saw a few rabbits and at the same time were able to enjoy sunset.
Explore dirt roads
You can explore most of the popular trails and places without the need of 4×4. Hovewer, if you want to find more quit places, you will need to drive Jeep roads (or hike way more). The amount of dirt roads in the park that you can wonder on, is huge. But please make sure you are don’t do offroading (check off highway places outside of the park border for that). Don’t drive during the monsoon season (some of the roads are washes). And consult with the park stuff before going on the closure and road conditions.
We explored Calcite Mine Trail which also could be a good but dusty hike. The road leads to a viewpoint and old site of the mine (no mine structures but a lot of rocks to explore).
Watch Sunset from Fonts Point
One of the most popular places in the park that requires you to have 4×4 and be able to drive deep sands (sometimes). The place is stunning, with panorama views of the ridges and badlands. The drive was scary but the views erased all of the negativity of it. I ended up getting tons of stunning photos. Another thing to consider is that the place could be super windy, so bring layers to keep you warm while enjoying the colors of the last light of the day.
Watch the starry skies
Anza Borrego State Park is designated as a Dark Sky site. What does it mean? You can enjoy stars in the night skies without any light pollution muting them. If you don’t want to drive away from the town or campground, you can check out milky way from Galeta Meadow among its wild metallic sculptures. Make sure you are not disturbing other stargazers.
The giant serpent is one of the most popular. But nearby Scorpio or Farm Workers could be also great spots to get stunning night shots.
Explore Local Slot Canyons
You don’t need to drive to Arizona or Utah to check slot canyons. Anza Borrego is a home of several interesting slots of its own.
The popular The Slot trail is one of the most accessible and easiest places to hike. See our photos in the post.
If you decided to drive to Calcite Mine, explore nearby Palm Wash canyons. Check photos and route description on AllTrails.
In the south part of the park, there is Canyon Sin Ombre that we explored. If you have 4×4, you can drive closer to the slots or walk a short distance to the narrows. The road is not very well maintained, but we saw several cars camping in the shadow of the canyon walls.
Another one to explore neary but outside of the park is Mecca Canyon.
Canyon Sin Ombre
Info and links
- Anza Borrego State Park is a desert park. You need to plan your trip remembering how hot it could be in the desert. Also, keep in mind that nights in the desert could be very cold. And, be aware of seasonal moonson storms
- To check the current conditions, learn about closures, visit the official park page
- The park has its own camprground popen October through April. Borrego Spring is the largest town has gotels of all sorts. Also, there are a bunch of nice Airbnbs where you could stay.
- For all of the trails in the area, see this page
- And here’s the Google Map with all locations from this post