off road driving
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. Five hundred miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and many miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert. The park is named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features varied desert terrain and habitats, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake. Listening devices for the hearing impaired are available in the visitor center. Many visitors approach from the east via Highways S22, S2, or 78. Visitors from San Diego and other points west arrive via Highways 79 and 78 can have the added pleasure of driving through the mountainous Cuyamaca Rancho State Park--quite a different experience from Anza-Borrego. The highways from the west climb to 2,400 feet or so and then descend about 2,000 feet to the valley. Where the highway breaks out of the high-country vegetation, it reveals the great bowl of the Anza-Borrego desert. The valley spreads below, and there are mountains all around. The Santa Rosa Mountains on the north side of this basin are notably grand. The surrounding mountains are wilderness, with no paved roads in or out or through. They have the only all-year-flowing watercourse in the park. They are the home of the peninsular bighorn sheep, often called desert bighorn. Few park visitors ever see them; the sheep wary in their defense against predators. A patient few observers each year see and count them, to learn how this endangered species is coping with human encroachment.
If there were 10 stars available that rating would still fall short. As a native San Diegan I have no clue how this place has stayed off my radar but wow, amazing. Make sure you get your directions down before hand. F'n Siri wanted to lead me through Ocatillo and park 2.3 miles away at the base of this. After that two hour detour it was only a 10 minute drive outside of Borrego Springs and 4 miles up a sandy wash to the point. The sand was thick at times but my AWD CX-5 had no problems. I left my 2WD Tacoma at home thinking I may need the extra traction only to get out there and to the top where I parked next to a Prius.
Make sure you look up the history of this area prior as it will only further your appreciation for this natural wonder.
What a cool experience. It's a short hike so we hiked in from the main road. We wore our day packs, but if you can wear a smaller pack, it's easier to squeeze through the slot. Great photos ops and beautiful sights. The trail opens up after the slot and you'll notice that if you go straight there are rocks cutting off the trail.... that's the Jeep trail. There is a sharp right turn that you can take, which has many cool areas to see, but it does dead end. You can climb out at the dead end, however you cannot get back to the car lot since it doesn't connect. At that point, you can just turn back and return the same way you came.