We are back on the road again. We took some time to spend with dad in Nevada after our trip to South Dakota. It got a little cold in Nevada in December and we had to take a dive south into the valley in California so the motorhome would not freeze. So now we are headed toward Arizona and we made a stop in the first warm spot we could find. ANZA-BORREGO STATE PARK. We have been here before and really had a good time exploring the area. It is the largest state park in California and is the second largest state park in the continental US. The name comes from the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Borrego, the Spanish name for Big Horn Sheep. With 500 miles of dirt roads and 110 miles of hiking trails we can be entertained here for weeks. The last time we camped out here we spent a week and only scratched the surface.
What I like about this area is the diverse landscape. You can be in barren desert without much more than a cactus and then a few miles from there be in a field of wildflowers if you are here at the right time of year. The last time we were here was the peak of the wildflowers and the ribbons of color stretched for miles. Now it is January, a very dry year for California, so no flowers to be seen except for an occasional Ocotillo blooming.
A few miles from where we are camped are the Citrus groves and date farms. We have already bought big bags of Tangelos & Ruby Red Grapefruit as well as a box of Medjool dates that were recently picked which is a nice addition to my morning smoothie.
Our first trip to Anza-Borrego we came across many sculptures in the desert. These sculptures are made out of steel which take on a natural patina, rust in this case. They are beautiful, life sized sculptures of mammals that once roamed this land. Dennis Avery, land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs envisioned the idea of adding ‘free standing art’ to his property with original steel welded sculptures created by artist/welder Ricardo Breceda. Breceda’s work is not restricted to just those animals that roamed here in ancient times; his sculptures celebrate the history and culture of the area, the desert environment, and pure fantasy.
The story of how Breceda’s artwork came to be located here is as fascinating as the artwork itself. Originally from Durango, Mexico, and not an artist, there were many twists and turns in Ricardo’s life. One day he made a dinosaur statue for his daughter. That’s when he became an artist. As happenstance would have it, Ricardo eventually encountered Dennis Avery, land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs. Dennis had the vision of using his land as an enormous outdoor gallery, home to Breceda’s Artwork. There are well over 100 of these amazing sculptures sprinkled around the outlaying areas of Borrego Springs.
While there are several Campgrounds and RV parks in or near Borrego Springs, we are happiest staying out in the desert on BLM land. No facilities but also no close neighbors, quiet and at no cost. Pick your spot anywhere that is not restricted by private property and enjoy your stay.
We enjoyed many miles of jeep roads, hiking trails and the wildlife found in many places. I think the most picturesque that included colorful rocks, wildflowers and a prize at the end of the 1.5 mile (600 ft elevation gain) hike is a Palm Oasis adorned with a clear stream and waterfalls. Totally opposite of the land just a few miles away.
An interesting hike through a Slot Canyon is found off the highway 78. They call it simply The Slot. From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive 11.5 miles southeast on Borrego Springs Road. Turn left on Route 78 East, drive 1.5 miles, and turn left on a dirt road marked Buttes Pass. Drive one mile up this dirt road to a fork, and continue to the left up Borrego Mountain Wash. Go another mile to the parking area for The Slot. Low clearance vehicles should be able to drive all the way to the trailhead at the end of the sandy dirt road. The trail descends down over 30 feet straight down into the canyon from the parking lot. The canyon hike is about 3 miles round trip if you continue through the slot and down a jeep road. You make a left turn straight up a deeply rutted jeep road and then a walk around the west side of the canyon back to the parking lot.
The Borregos (The sheep) that roam the park and the surrounding land number around 800 according to a Park Ranger we spoke to. They are the Peninsular bighorn sheep, often called desert bighorn sheep. We have been here a couple times before and never were able to see them. After several miles of hiking in our first few days and no sheep sitings, we took one more hike above the Tamarisk Grove campground. We were very excited to see a total of 17 sheep including 3 rams. I spent over an hour climbing up and down the paths attempting to get some good photos of them before they ran up the mountain out of the range of my lens. The photos aren’t the best, but what a wonderful experience to observe these beauties so close.
“Advice from a Ram”
“Stand your ground – Climb to New heights – Cherish Wide Open Spaces – Use Your head – Make yourself Herd – Know when to Hoof it – Ewe are who Ewe Are”