The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park boasts one of the harshest desert environments in North America and the terrain certainly is challenging. At over 600,000 acres, this is the largest California State Park and there certainly is plenty to experience in this unique environment. Towering mountains border this Colorado Desert basin and erosive forces continually reshape the slopes in this area. The soft sedimentary bedrock at the base of the mountains is carved into a labyrinth of badlands canyons and the rubble has flowed into the valley over eons of time. The erosive forces have also revealed clues about the ancient past, because the deep sediment in the valley contains a vast array of plant and animal fossils. It may be difficult to imagine, but this desolate Colorado Desert Valley actually used to be a tropical paradise in prehistoric times, which definitely adds to the mystique when doing a tour.
There are over 500 miles of dirt roads to explore in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and there are several popular hiking or biking trails. This park also features facilities and trails for the physically challenged, so practically anybody can experience this unique environment. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has several campgrounds that range from fully developed to primitive backcountry spots with basic facilities and there are also BLM dispersed camping areas nearby. The Colorado Desert is a very unforgiving place to be, so there are many precautions to be aware of and the most important is adequate hydration. The cool weather seasons definitely are best for an Anza-Borrego Desert State Park venture and a good place to start is the official visitor center in Borrego Springs. Trail maps and all the information that an adventurist will possibly need can be found here.
Thoroughly exploring the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was not an option during my visit because I arrived just as a major desert dust storm was just starting to go full force. Heading down the dirt roads into the desert is not advisable during a windy dust storm, because the visibility can quickly become blinding and the thick dust can cause vehicle reliability issues. Breathing can be a real problem too, so I just resigned to doing a quich tour on the paved road through the north end of this big park. Highway 78 runs through the picturesque badlands areas along the base of the towering mountains, so for those who just wish to do an easy going scenic drive, this paved road is a good choice. There are several marked overlooks along Highway 78 that are worth checking out and some feature views of the entire desert valley. A BLM dispersed camping area and the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area are also located along this travel route, which add to the appeal. Touring Highway 78 through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park certainly is a nice option for those times when the high winds stir up the dust!
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