Anza-Borrego Junior Ranger Program
This program will deepen your seven- to twelve-year-olds’ appreciation of nature. It is the ultimate outdoor adventure for kids since parents are not allowed! On Saturday and Sunday during winter and spring, you can drop off your children at the visitor center for supervised activities in the park.
Kids receive a log book to record their visit. Best of all, the Junior Ranger program is free! Call the park for current times and a schedule at (760) 767–4205.
This is the biggest state park in the United States, with 600,000 acres of wildly rugged mountains (highest elevation 6,000 feet) and desert (elevation 40 feet), along with flora, fauna, and fossils dating back 540 million years. You will see mesquite, yucca, and smoke trees; cacti; and thousands of native plants and flowers.
Start your visit at the magnificent 7,000-square-foot visitor center, built into the hillside, with exhibits, maps, natural history books, a twenty-minute video presentation, and volunteers who are eager to help your family plan your desert experience.
There are nature walks, campfire programs, fossil programs, and guided hikes to choose from. The park is geared for off-road travel and exploration. The most dramatic and popular attraction is the spring wildflowers. Our favorite hikes include the Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail, a gentle 3-mile round-trip, as well as the Pygmy Trail, a 1-mile round-trip that leads to fifty short palm trees. Among the park’s many other points of interest: the Box Canyon Historical Monument, Coyote Canyon, the Culp Valley Overlook, the Elephant Tree Discovery Trail, the Mason Valley Cactus Garden, and the Vallecita Stagecoach Station.
San Diego County, with its rich Spanish and Mexican heritage and American spirit, is a world-class destination with an ideal climate, fantastic natural wonders, and enough excitement to create a wonderfully satisfying family adventure. Adios!
We spent 3 nights at the campgrounds here last week. We were in the more primitive sites, so we had a bit more space than the other sites. However, the other sites appeared to be well spaced out as well. During the week, the campgrounds are pretty empty, although the RV section was pretty full. We brought our bikes to ride around the campground. You can also ride them to the Visitor's Center, or you can drive or hike from the campgrounds. The Visitor's Center is very nice and very informative. I would highly recommend a stop to the Visitor's Center at the beginning of your trip. The campsite was clean with a fire pit and picnic table. The bathrooms are cleaned regularly. There is a store in town to pick up forgotten or needed items. There are 2 gas stations to fill up your tank. The town also has stores, hotels, restaurants, and a movie theater.
From our campsite, we could hike directly to Palm Canyon, which is a must see! It's about a 3 mile roundtrip hike that is easily done by toddlers and elderly alike. There are no steep elevation changes. We were there when the wildflowers were in bloom so we got to see beautiful desert flowers in purple, yellow, red and white. It was a real treat to see native palms and an oasis. The cacti were really neat, especially the ocotillo which have bright red/orange flowers. We saw some jack rabbits, but never did see the elusive borrego.
We drove out to Blair Valley to see Marshal South's home and the pictographs. The hike to Marshal South's home was a very steep 1 mile hike (2 miles roundtrip). The views were amazing. The kids loved exploring the small homestead and imaging what life would be like to live on top of a mountain out in the middle of the desert. The drive to the pictographs from Marshal South's home was about 2 miles. The hike to the pictographs was about 1 mile roundtrip on a level trail. The pictographs are on one rock. The road in Blair Valley is all dirt so be prepared and drive a 4-wheel or AWD if possible. We saw a coyote on the drive.
We hiked Palm Slot near the Calcite mine (off S22). This is not to be missed! From the road, the hike might be about 3 miles roundtrip. You can drive down the road toward the mine, take a sharp left at the bottom of the hill and drive until you get to the entrance to the slot. Hiking the slot is about 1/2 mile. We hiked from the main road (S22). The rock formations are amazing and walking through the slot was a fun experience for the kids. We saw bugs of all kinds. I even found a lacewing moth that is very rare (1st discovered in the early 1900s and then only seen once since then)- wow! We saw lizards of all kinds, a bird's nest and a sidewinder. We brought a picnic lunch to eat and found a nice shady spot to rest and enjoy lunch.
We drove to the Salton Sea, just because we didn't know when we'd ever see it again. Not much to see, except some dead fish on the beach. There were some pelicans and sanderlings. We would not visit the Salton Sea again.
We drove to Fonts Point (down Fonts Wash- off S22). This is a dirt road and you should have a 4-wheel drive, or at least AWD. The view from Fonts Point should not be missed! You get 360 degree views of the park. The badlands are just breathtaking! If you can catch the sunset here, you will not be disappointed!
The best time to go to Anza-Borrego is during the spring when the flowers are in bloom and the weather is still cool enough to hike. Fall is probably also a good time to visit. Be prepared with lots of water, sunscreen and a hat! Also know that the desert winds can pick up and be pretty fierce (60+ MPH at night while we were there)- make sure your tent and other items are secure so they don't blow away. The change in temperature can be pretty drastic- 40's at night and 80-90s during the day, so bring layers, especially a warm hat to wear at night/early morning. Summer is sweltering hot and winter is cold.