Armchair photo tours: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Photos by Cheryl Landes

Some of the sparsest deserts can have a fantastic show of color in the spring, especially after a winter with enough rainfall. In 2017, the Southern California deserts received record rainfall—a welcome change after five years of drought throughout the state.

In March, thousands of flowers started appearing at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park northeast of San Diego, California’s largest state park covering 640,000 acres. Although most of the flowers are tiny, together they transform a typical tan, gray landscape into a sea of color.


Today’s armchair photo tour is from my visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on March 17-18, 2017, when the flowers were at peak. The show continued through May, but the types of flowers in bloom changed.

My route to the park from the San Diego International Airport followed California Route 78 East to Santa Ysabel, where I turned north on California Route 79. In 11 miles, I turned right on San Felipe Road (S2) and drove five miles to Montezuma Valley Road (S22) and turned left. S22 is a steep, windy road that descends onto the desert floor 17 miles later. From airport to desert, it’s a two-hour drive without stops.


A tour here requires extra water, sunscreen, and a hat. When I was here, the high temperature was in the mid-90s. It’s easy to become dehydrated within minutes in the dry, hot desert heat. The town of Borrego Springs at the edge of the park has a shopping mall and grocery store for stocking up, if needed.


Weekdays are the least crowded during bloom season. On weekends, there are traffic jams through Borrego Springs and limited parking. During my trip, the park’s visitor center was closed, but a flower information booth was open in a trailer at the mall’s parking lot.

Updates during bloom season are posted at the Anza-Borrego State Park website.

Enjoy today’s tour!


See also:
Eight places to see wildflowers in Southern California

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