Metal Sculptures Draw Visitors

to Borrego Valley

Ricardo Breceda, Artist

by Diana Lindsay

The word is out - something other than desert wildflowers and the spectacular Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is attracting visitors to Borrego Valley in Southern California. People are coming from around the United States and internationally to see over one hundred fully-sized metal sculptures inspired by the animals that roamed this desert millions of years ago. Prehistoric mammals, historical characters, fanciful dinosaurs, and a 350-foot-long fanciful serpent are just some of the inhabitants of this fanciful tableau.

The sculptures are the perfect blend of superb craftsmanship and a picture-perfect placement in the open desert landscape surrounded by California's largest state park. The sculptor has taken a primitive welding art form of Mexico to new provocative heights.

The creator of this whimsical collection, spread out on three square miles of non-contiguous desert land surrounding Borrego Springs, is Ricardo Breceda, a gifted artist who ten years ago never knew that one day he would have the talent and skill to build these remarkable sculptures. His talent grew out of a devastating accident on a construction job that changed his life.


One of the few jobs he could handle after the accident was selling exotic boots. One fateful day 10 years ago, he traded a pair of boots for a welding machine and began to "play" with it when he was not selling his boots. Probably nothing would have come from it but for a request from his seven-year-old daughter to make a life-size dinosaur.


From that beginning Breceda's sculptures are now found across the world, from Canada to Australia. The highest concentration of sculptures are found in Borrego Valley and were all commissioned by Borrego landowner Dennis Avery who has scattered the sculptures on lands that he has held for years for conservation. The private property, call Galleta Meadows, is open to the public for viewing and short-term camping.

The original sculptures were inspired by animals that lived millions of years ago in the Anza-Borrego area during the Plio-Pleistocene age. Later sculptures were inspired by local history and then pure whim and fantasy. There is even a full-size Willys Jeep CJ-3A with a driver and a passenger.


The most dramatic of all is a giant 350-foot long serpent with a tail of a rattlesnake and a head of a dragon. See for photos of the sculptures and comments from visitors. A newly published book, Ricardo Breceda: Accidental Artist (retail $24.95; 256 pages, hardcover, 280 full-color photographs, available at DesertUSA), tells the story of the artist and is lavishly illustrated with photographs of the sculptures.

Fighting Dinosaurs

Life-size fighting dinosaurs

The best place to get visitor information about the sculptures in Borrego Springs is at the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce at 786 Palm Canyon Drive (POB 420, Borrego Springs, CA 92004-0420) just east of the community's roundabout at Christmas Circle ( or call 760-767-5555).

A Sky Art sculpture of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, for whom the state park was named, sits in front of the chamber offices. The chamber has free maps to the sculptures within its published Village Guide that offers complete visitor information for this community.

More pictures and a video



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