Anza Borrego State Park Visitor Center
The Anza Borrego State Park Visitor Center is about a one mile walk from the Palm Canyon campground. There is a paved trail the whole distance with interpretive signs along the way detailing the local animal life, local desert plans, and information about our solar system with a scaled distance between the planet signs. It is a nice pleasant walk with great views. At the Visitor Center there is a gift shot, a movie theater, a small museum, and of course, a board showing a list of the most recent Borrego (Desert Big Horn Sheep) sightings!
Coyote Canyon is in the north part of the state park and is a 4WD dirt road (as are all the dirt roads in the park per the Visitor Center) with sand and rocks the further you drive north.
Desert Gardens is a picnic area with a few picnic tables and some nice views, a perfect place to stop for lunch.
The desert area near the entrance to Coyote Canyon had some nice Desert Verbena in bloom.
We drove south in Anza Borrego to Blair Valley so that we could hike the Pictographs/Smugglers Canyon trail, which is one of our favorites. We knew that some of the dirt roads in the park required 4WD or high clearance which as of today, we have neither. Our Tracker used to work fine for all of that but now all we have is an AWD Subaru which still helps but you just never know. Plus the Subi is newer and therefore we tend to treat it more cautiously. The Tracker was over 20 years old so a few scratches never hurt it!! Off we went anyway.
You enter Blair Valley off of Highway S2 (AKA Great Southern Overland Stage Route) going towards the east just south of the community of Shelter Valley. There is dispersed camping along the dirt road and we saw quite a number of campers by the side of the dirt road camping. Due to the recent rains there were areas of mud and puddles but we managed to find ways around them.
On our way to the Pictographs Trailhead we passed the Marshall South trailhead (which is a great trail to hike) and the Morteros trailhead and from there it was a little over a mile or so to the Pictographs trailhead. It is a total of a little over 5 miles from the highway to the trailhead. We were managing just fine until we got to a deeper rut in the road and didn’t want to chance trying to cross it. A 4WD truck behind us tried 3 or 4 times to get through the rut but he finally gave up too and turned around. We could have probably made it but we didn’t want to risk it. It doesn’t look bad in the photos but if we had just a bit more clearance it might have been fine. We decided to park the car there and hike the remaining mile or so to the trailhead to start our next hike. Off we went. AND YES we are wimps! Again, with our Tracker we would not even notice it.
It was an absolutely beautiful day with perfect temperatures and a gorgeous blue sky. It was uphill all the way to the trailhead but we enjoyed magnificent views the entire way.
We arrived at the Pictographs trailhead and continued the slight gradual incline to the Pictographs. It was a beautiful hike.
We stopped at the Pictographs and sat on a rock and enjoyed our picnic lunch while trying to decipher the pictographs.
We then headed back down to the trailhead. It is a simple but rewarding hike even with adding a few miles to it due to us parking a mile or so from the trailhead but it is really easy going downhill!
Once at the trailhead we noticed a few 4WDs parked that had obviously made it through the ruts in the road. We continued on down the hill to our car. On the way down (and almost to the car) we were stopped by a man in a truck asking if that was our Subaru down the road and offered us a ride to it. We thanked him and declined since the whole point was go get out and hike and get some exercise AND we were headed downhill. Seriously, where was he when we were hiking UPHILL…..ha, ha…. He said that he was ferrying people back and forth because his daughter had a Subaru and she could not get it through the road rut and so she parked next us. How funny!!! None of us want to damage our Subarus. Weird.
For the drive back to the campground we decided to take the Little Blair Valley Rd which heads north north and is about a mile longer. We could see Little Blair Valley in the distance from where our car was parked.
We have driven it before we didn’t know the current road condition (again, the Visitor Center lists ALL dirts roads as needing 4WD and high clearance – they didn’t used to do that). We love the Little Blair Valley Rd as it has great scenery and it usually nice and quiet. AND the dirt road conditions were great. We quite enjoyed the 6 mile drive back to S2.
We continued on from S2 to Highway 78 and then over Yaqui Pass Rd (and the pass) to Borrego Springs. As we came down the pass on the north side we got great views of Borrego Springs and the valley.
The access dirt road to Font Points is off off Highway 22 and it is another one of those roads that the Visitor Center lists as a “4WD and high clearance required” road. Our thought for any of these dirt roads is to drive it until we couldn’t and then turn around. Off we went to Fonts Point.
Fonts Point is a ridgeline with great views over the badlands of Borrego where to the east you can see the Salton Sea and to the west there are fabulous views which are especially nice at sunset. It can be quite the gathering place for people in the early evening to soak in the sunset and views. We have had countless great times here with friends and family over the years.
We lucked out and the road was in a great condition and we didn’t encounter any problems while driving. It took us about 20 or 30 minutes to drive the 4 mile dirt road to the trailhead parking lot. There were only a few other vehicles parked there when we arrived.
The view to the east shows the Borrego badlands and in the distance you can see the Salton Sea.
The views to the west show more badlands and the Borrego Valley. Just to the southwest is Ant Hill which is a great place to hike to which offers great views looking back over to Font Points giving you a different perspective of the badlands. Just a warning if you decide to hike Ant Hill, it is very deep sand and you get quite the workout but the views are worth it.
The views to the northwest offer the sweeping mountain vistas around Clark Dry Lake.
It was quite windy at the point so we didn’t stay very long and decided to drive back down the road and continue on our next adventure.
Yes, the Borrego Springs area is known for its wildflower blooms and some years it is better than others as it all depends on the weather.
This year was a fair year (so far) and we stopped along the road and caught a few photos. It was a cloudy day which made the views all the more dramatic.
Adios Borrego – link to a poem I wrote years ago about Borrego!
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