Sunday, May 31, 2015

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

After our incredible anniversary trip to Yosemite National Park we needed a good weekend doing absolutely nothing but relax on the couch. The following weekend we were well rested and ready to get back to hiking, this time in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Anza Borrego is about a 2 hour drive south from our apartment in the inland San Diego area. This state park in the desert is very similar to Joshua Tree National Park which I've blogged about before. I did research ahead of time to find out what hot spots I wanted to check out and found out that many locations require a 4 wheel drive vehicle to get to. That knocked some items off my list since I have a little Mazda and would most likely get stuck in the sand. I mostly wanted to go to this park because in early March the desert becomes filled with beautiful wild flowers, and I was hoping I would be able to catch them before they died off from the heat. Of course we were about 5 days too late, but we still had a great time exploring some very unique places in Anza Borrego. 

Our first stop was to hike Slot Canyon. Even just getting here was an adventure. The hike begins off of Borrego Mountain Wash Rd which was very difficult to find. You will see a tiny sign on the side of the road and no other markings. We drove past the entrance a few times before we figured we might as well give the sand road a try. Once you turn onto Borrego Mountain you find yourself on a bumpy sand road that is no wider than one car which you have to share with cars coming the other way. I was extremely nervous taking my little car on this road especially because all the other cars were large trucks or SUVs. Luckily she made it to the parking area with no problems. When you finally park there won't be any markings for the start of the hike. You basically just climb down into the canyon anywhere that looks safe. As soon as you climb down you will feel like you are on a completely different planet. The canyon is only about 2 feet wide and even smaller in some areas. I felt like I was in a maze. This hike is only about a mile from start back to the car and shaded from the heat which was a nice relief. If you can only do one hike here, definitely try this one!
After Slot Canyon we then went looking for the park's famous metal sculptures. I couldn't find a good map that nicely labeled where each one is located, so we just drove up and down Borrego Springs Road and pulled over at any sculpture that we found interesting. There has to be over 100 sculptures through out the park. My favorite was the dragon that crosses both sides of the road. It was HUGE! There are also elephants, sheep, and even turtles. See how many you can find! 
We finished the day by hiking Palm Canyon Trail which starts in a desert landscape and ends in a palm oasis. In order to park here it costs $8 for the day. This is the only time we had to pay for parking in the park. The trail in only 3 miles and there isn't much elevation so it was pretty easy. Most of the hike I was concerned because I couldn't see anything but desert all around. I thought maybe it was too hot for anything but the dry desert. All of a sudden we came around a corner and there was a small stream and beautiful palm trees in the distance. The hike was really enjoyable. The sound of water rushing by was very peaceful and a great way to end a perfect day. We hiked back to the car and then drove home. 
This park is very different from anything else we have hiked before and really beautiful. I'm glad we decided to make the drive out to the desert and enjoy a day together. Can't wait to come back next year for the wildflowers!