Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Points of Interest

Overview | Visitor Center | Where to Stay | Maps and Weather | Videos
Things to Do - ABDSP | Park History


For a video overview of all the fascinating places in and around Anza Borrego Desert State Park that you can visit, from the Gomphotherium Park in Borrego Springs to the Pumpkin Patch and much more! Watch this video to get an idea of the range of geologic features available to check out in the Park. With more than 600,000 acres, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, has many unique areas that you can explore. Here are some of them.

Anza Borrego Overview

Coyote Canyon is famous for its year-round stream and lush plant life.  The canyon is used by hikers, horseback riders and those with sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicles.  The roads are rough, but the hiking and riding trails are good.  The historic trail of explorer Juan Bautista de Anza passes through Coyote Canyon.

Journey Through Coyote Canyon - Wildllife Viewing Area

Coyote Canyon - Desert Gardens, Ocotillo Flat and Lower Willows

Desert Gardens is a lovely garden of ocotillo, cactus, and other desert plants. As with any garden, the thing to do is to walk around and look at the plants which often include a stray wildflower or two at the base of the mountain ridge.” Click here to continue reading about this location.

The attractions of Lower Willows are the fresh waters of Coyote Creek running through it and the color, density and variety of the surrounding vegetation.

Ocotillo Flat starts at Coyote Creek and stretches across soft sandy soil to the naked hills and canyons to the east and north. It is bird country, reptile country, and cactus country with wildflowers in season. It includes one of the most impressive stands of ocotillo anywhere. - See Video

Pegleg sign

Pegleg’s Monument is located at the intersection of Pegleg Road and Henderson Canyon Road.  Here you will find a large pile of rocks, a monument, guest sign in book and a good story about one of the most famous prospectors of the time, trapper/gold seeker “Pegleg Smith” traveled through this region (in the 1830’s). It's rumored he discovered black gold pebbles somewhere in the east part of the Park. Where he found his gold has never been discovered, or if it has, the location has never been published or verified. The discovery of black gold by Pegleg remains just a legend, though many have searched the desert hills looking for the area where he found it. A sign at the Monument reads: let those who see Pegleg’s gold add ten rocks to this pile.”   

Related links. . .

Article - Riding your ATV's over Pegleg's Gold/Ocotillo Wells.
Video - Riding your ATVs over Pegleg's Gold/Ocotillo Wells?
Article - Was Pegleg's Gold Found?
Article - Gold Fever In The Desert.
Article - The Man Who Found Pegleg's Gold.
Pegleg Smith Liars' Contest

Galleta Meadows Estates Not located in the park, it is private land open to the public in Borrego valley. History is unfolding in a town already filled with its own unique historical milestones, Borrego Springs with the first placement of the Gomphotherium free standing art structures. These creatures lived in the area about 3 million years ago 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 'Perris Jurassic Park' owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda based in Perris, California.

Related links. . .

Directions and map to Galleta Meadows
Video about Galleta Meadows
eBook - Road Guide To Borrego Springs Metal Art Sculptures

17 Palms, 5 Palms and Una Palm are Palm Oases located near the Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground off of S-22. There are many palm oases located within the Park boundaries. These areas are well-known watering holes for the regional wildlife of the Borrego Badlands. The palms at the Oases are often green and brilliant compared to the stark and barren desert that surrounds them.  Click here to read more about these oases and directions on how to get to them.

Article about Arroyo Salado, Truckhaven Trail and the Palm Oases.

Pumpkin Patch Anza Borrego desert

Pumpkin Patch his unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing globular sandstone concretions that look much like pumpkins in size and shape. Such concretions are believed to be formed by the natural cementing of sand particles to a small object such as a piece of shell, a grain of sand or even an insect.

Related links . . .

Information and photos of the Pumpkin Patch

Font's Point

Font’s Point offers a commanding view of the Borrego Valley and Borrego Badlands.  This prominent viewpoint is reached by a sandy four-mile primitive road, which more often than not is soft and rutted.  Four-wheel-drive vehicles are required to reach the view point.  Check the road conditions board at the Visitor’s Center prior to attempting to visit Font’s Point.  If you can get to Font’s Point the view is well worth the effort.  It is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the southwest desert regions.

Related links . . .

Video - Font's Point - Borrego Badlands

Borrego Palm Canyon is located one mile from the Visitors Center. It is the location of the Palm Canyon Campground and the trailhead for an easy three-mile round-trip nature trail that leads to a grove of native California Fan Palms.  A free self-guided trail brochure is available to introduce visitors to the canyon and palm grove.

Carrizo Gorge Railroad - Follows the old railway route between Campo to El Centro and Imperial Valley. Read about it here.

Train tracks

Ocotillo Wells OHV Area includes over 80,000 acres of magnificent desert area open for off-road exploration and recreation. The area includes campgrounds, miles of ATV trails and tracks. Self-guided vehicle tours are available.  Check the nearest bulletin board, or visit the Ranger Station to find out about current activities.

Ocotillo Wells

Related links . . .

Information and maps of the Ocotillo Wells OHV area.
Video about Ocotillo Wells
Video about riding your ATVs over Pegleg's Gold?

Split Mountain, Fish Creek Wash and Elephant Trees Trail

The narrow divide between the Fish Creek Mountains and the Vallecito Mountains is called Split Mountain. Split Mountain is a geological wonder, formed by numerous earthquakes and floods revealing layers of geological and paleontologic history within its walls. You can often drive a passenger car to its entrance for the view from inside a mountain.  A walk or drive through the Split will open new worlds for the visitor and the terms “geology,” “faults” and “erosion” will take on new meanings. 

Take Split Mountain Rd. where it intersects from Ocotillo Wells (Hwy 78) heading South.  You will continue South on Split Mountain Rd. for approximately 8 miles where you will turn right (West) on Fish Creek Wash towards the Fish Creek Primitive Campgrounds. Fish Creek Wash will take you through Split Mountain.

The Elephant Tree Trail – Only one living Elephant Tree remains, but this hike through a rocky wash is still a delight.  This easy walk covers 1.5 miles and takes about one hour. The Elephant Tree Trail turn off is on Split Mountain Rd. approximately 5.9 miles from Ocotillo Wells and Hwy 78.

Related links . . .

Article about Elephant Tree Trail

Fish Creek Wash will take you to the Fish Creek Primitive Campground and on through Split Mountain.  The wash is a jeep trail that you can walk, bike or drive through in a 4WD vehicle.  Fish Creek Wash points of interest include: Anticline, Wind Caves, Elephant Knees, Loop Wash, Sandstone Canyon and Olla Wash. 

Related links . . .

Hike - Fish Creek Walk -
Article about Fossils From Surrounding Area

Split Mountain Wind Caves  - The sandstone wind caves and arches are created from erosion caused by wind.  You can explore the caves by hiking approximately 1 mile from the Wind Cave Trailhead (2 miles round trip).  Trail head is located in Fish Creek Wash just past Split Mountain.

Mud Hills Wash and Elephant Knees   - One of the most spectacular sights in the Split Mountain area is a formation known as Elephant Knees. It's a mudhill ridge with thick fluted ridges that look like the knees of elephants.

From the road, you look up at it and view it from a distance. You can also walk Mudhill Wash, to the east of Elephant Knees, to get a closer view. The flat top of Elephant Knees is a layer of marine sediments. You can look at it, but you mustn't climb on it. Click here to read more about Elephant Knees.

Related links . . .

Elephant Knees Information and Location
Hike - Mud Hills Wash/Elephant Knees

Tamarisk Grove is a tree-shaded campground with restrooms and hot showers.  Trails lead out from the camp to Yaqui Well, a spring famous for it diversity of birdlife.  Another fascinating trail takes you through a beautiful stand of cactus on the Cactus Loop Trail.  Primitive camp spots can be found at nearby Yaqui Well and Yaqui Pass.  Winter visitors are often treated to a rare look at the desert bighorn sheep that winter on the ridges north of Tamarisk Grove.

Blair Valley is cooler than the lower desert region of the park and attracts campers to its hidden coves near the rocky margins of the valley.  Hikers enjoy walks to the Marshal South Home site (also called Yaquitepec), the Morteros and the Pictographs.  Along the southern Emigrant Trail and the Butterfield Overland Stageline Route lies Box Canyon, a narrow defile still scarred by the early wagon roads.

Related links . . .

Video about Ghost Mountain, the Marshall Family and Yaquitepec

Carrizo Valley Region - Carrizo Badlands Overlook is located on County Highway S-2 just a few yards off the paved road.  The eroded and twisted sediments below the viewpoint hold untold secrets of mastodons, sabertooths, zebras and camels that roamed this region more than a million years ago.  The savannahs, streams and lakes have vanished,  but the feeling of awe and mystery remains. From the Carrizo Badlands Overlook in the southern region of the park you can view the popular Canyon Sin Nombre jeep trail which leads to slot canyons and the nearby badlands

Canyon Sin Nombre is a geologic wonderland where millions of years of history are concealed within the walls of the Canyon.  Canyon Sin Nombre is approximately 4-miles long and contains a slot canyon.

Mud Caves– One of the most fascinating points of interest in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. One of the most extensive mud cave systems in the world, they contain approximately 22 known caves and 9 slot canyons.  Click here for more information about this location. Click here to see a video about Canyon Sin Nombre and the Mud Caves.

Related Links . . .

Article about hiking Canyon Sin Nombre

Vallecito Stage Station  - The turn-off to the Vallecito Station, which was one of the many Butterfield stations located within the Park boundaries.  The turn-off is at post mile 34.7 on Hwy S-2.  Explore the restored adobe station building and rooms used by the travelers.  The station was build at an Army depot in 1852 and was later expanded into a stage station for the Jackass Mail and the Butterfield Overland Mail (1857-1861.  It was restored in 1934. Click here for County Park information. Click here to read an article about the Vallcito Stage.

Agua Caliente Park is run by the County San Diego and is not part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, but sits on the park boundary along S-2. Agua Caliente is best know for its heated springs, which have long attract visitors eager to soak in their soothing therapeutic mineral waters. Spectacular vistas and miles of trails that meander through the park's canyons and across its hillsides are additional attractions. Two naturally fed pools provide different ways of enjoying Agua Caliente's hot springs. A large outdoor pool is kept at its natural 96°, and an indoor pool is heated and outfitted with Jacuzzi jets. Spring-fed, warm showers are also available. Click here for more information on this park.

With more than 600,000 acres, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, has 7 unique areas that you can explore. Also see Things to Do in the park.

 Anza /Visitor Center Area | Blair Valley Area | Borrego Badlands Area
Bow Willow Area
 | Fish Creek Area  | Santa Rosa Area | Tamarisk Grove Area
Things to Do in the ABDSP | Park History


San Diego Backcountry Map Anza Borrego Parks and More


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