Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
California's Largest State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is tucked into the southeastern corner of California. Running about 25 miles east to west and 50 miles north to south, it is California's largest state park encompassing more than 600,000 acres. The park is framed by, and includes many rugged mountain ranges: the Bucksnorts and the Santa Rosas on the north, the Jacumba Mountains on the south and the Vallecito and Pinyon Mountains on the west. To the east, the Borrego Mountains taper into the Carrizo Badlands before falling away into the Salton Trough.
There are more than 500 miles of roads in the park. There are routes up rocky hills, through deep sand, along scenic streams and down steep hills. Both primitive jeep roads and paved roads are also open to bicycles.
Start your exploration of the park at the Visitor's Center. At the entrance to the center is an excellent map of the park, above which sits a model of a full-sized Aiolornis incredibilis, "the incredible bird god of the winds." The Visitor's Center's exhibits show how geological forces shaped the landscape, life forms and human stories of the Anza-Borrego Desert region, and feature a small slot canyon entrance. It is also good place to get the latest information on the roads and hiking trails.
Note: California State Parks began collecting day use fees at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor center starting on November 3, 2017. Day Use fee is $10 per vehicle and will be collected on Fridays through Sundays and holidays. The day use fee ticket is valid at any State Park in the Colorado Desert District or the State Park System for the date of purchase.
With more than 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, has many unique areas that you can explore. Click on the links below to find the area you would like to explore.
Video Park Overview
Explore The Park
Destinations and Photo Opportunities - There are many spectacular locations that will define your visit to the park and present some great photo opportunities.
Map and Weather - The park includes some of the hottest locations in the U.S. -- Borrego Valley and Borrego Badlands -- where summertime daily high temperatures can average 107 degrees F. Temperatures can climb as high as 125 degrees F.
Park History - As you begin to explore Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, you will find that it has a rich archaeological heritage and that nearly every surface of this arid land yields evidence of past human inhabitants. Archaeologists have found indications of human activity in Anza-Borrego as early as 6,000 years ago.
Scenic Drives - There are a number of highways that crisscross this huge state park. California Route 78 runs east to west through the middle of the park while County Routes S1, S2, S3 and S22 link the various sections of the park.
Wildflowers - Each year, the unique combination of sun, wind, water, temperature and elevation sets the stage for the springtime blooms. From late February through March, you can find blossoms on the desert floor. For weekly updates on the best locations, and pictures of what you will find there, read our Wildflower Watch.
Off the Beaten Path
Animals - Bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and coyotes can be found in the park. Click the link to read a list of the animals you might see.
Auto 4X4 Routes - Most of the dirt roads in the park are for 4-wheel drive vehicles. Some the roads present a real challenge for even for more experienced off road drivers. Most however, are easily handled by any 4 wheel drive vehicle that is street legal.
Biking - There are more than 500 miles of roads in the park that are open to bicycles. There are routes up rocky hills, through deep sand, along scenic streams and down steep hills. Both primitive jeep roads and paved roads are open to bicycles.
Hiking/Backpacking - Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails exist in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the surrounding regions. The Pacific Crest Trail passes in and out of the park several times, providing 50 miles of adventuresome hiking.
Maps and Weather Located about 100 miles east-northeast of San Diego, the park includes some of the hottest locations in the U.S.
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. A total of 12 campgrounds are available inside Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, but it is one of the few California parks that allows open camping throughout its 600,000 acres.
Videos on the Park - We have made a series of videos on the different points of interest in the park. They are about 90 seconds long and give information and views of each area.
Related Blog Posts
Palm Oases in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - From Hwy S22 at Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground you can 4WD or hike to the 17 Palms Oasis, 5 Palms Oasis, Una Palma and the Pumpkin Patch in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Coyote Canyon 4WD Trail In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Coyote Canyon, located in the northwest area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, is a wonderful place. There is a year-round stream that runs through the canyon and serves as a water source for the bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
Wind Caves at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - From afar, the caves appear as dark holes; close-up they contain sculpted arches and passageways embedded within the sandstone formations.
Monsters in the Desert – Metal sculptures - Over 130 full-sized metal sculptures are sited here. Many are inspired by creatures that roamed this same desert millions of years ago.
A 350-foot Serpent Rises from the Sand in Borrego Springs, CA – Metal sculptures in Galleta Meadows.
Day Trippin’ Along 86 - Take a trip from Indio, CA to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - There are more than 22 caves and 9 slot canyons that have been created by water erosion. The caves are literally made out of mud; if you walk on the hills above them you are at great risk for falling through into a cave and collapsing the cave ceiling.
Geocaching at Ocotillo Wells – Near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - To plan for our upcoming adventure, I logged on to www.geocaching.com to see what geocaches were available to search for in Ocotillo Wells, resulting in an almost overwhelming list. To narrow down my selection, I printed out the coordinates for two caches that were near the “Devil’s Slide”.
Mountain Biking in Coyote Canyon - After loading up our backpacks with plenty of water and snacks, my friend John and I began our mountain bike ride through Coyote Canyon. The road was sandy, but we didn’t encounter any problems. If you followed the car tracks and stayed away from the deeper sand, you could ride without any loss of traction.
Hours: Daily 9-5
Park Office 760-767-5311
Hours: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Anza-Borrego Desert Introductory Package - Books and Maps
Borrego Springs, California - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park surrounds Borrego Springs.
Galleta Meadows Free Standing Art
Julian, California - 30 miles west from Visitor's Center.
Palm Springs, California - 90 miles north from Visitor's Center.
Indio, California - 61 miles northeast from Visitor's Center.
San Diego, California - 78 miles west.
Parks & Monuments
Joshua Tree National Park - 91 miles northeast from Visitor's Center.
Agua Caliente/Vallecito Regional Parks - 44 miles west from Visitor's Center.
Ocotillo Wells Vehicular Recreation Area - Southeast of park
Imperial Sand Dunes - 70 miles east from Visitor's Center.
Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge - 80 miles southeast from Visitor's Center.
Salton Sea State Recreation Area - 65 miles northeast from Visitor's Center.
Historic & Points of Interest
Tumco/Hedges Ghost Town (BLM) - 85 miles east.
General Patton Memorial Museum (Indio) - 760-774-7388
Living Desert Reserve (Palm Desert) - 760-346-5694.
Palm Springs Desert Museum (Palm Springs) - 760-325-0189.
Other DesertUSA Resources
Gem Trails Guides (Books)
Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert
Desert Survival Skills
Desert Survival Kit
How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Survival Tool
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)
Click here to see current desert temperatures!