Winter Season Borrego Day Trip

Winter Season Borrego Day Trip

While most people typically head out to the California deserts during the Springtime to see the Super Bloom desert flowers, we opted for a quieter wintertime visit. The Anza-Borrego Desert is only about 70 miles (113 kilometers) east of downtown San Diego, so this makes it a popular day trip destination for San Diegans looking to escape the city and experience the beauty of the desert.

While the nights were certainly chilly (in the 30s), the daytime temps were in the 50s and low 60s making it great hiking weather.

Palm Canyon Hike

If you only have time to do one hike,  I recommend going to the Palm Canyon Hike in Borrego – not to be confused with the one in Palm Desert!

The Palm Canyon hike in the Anza-Borrego Desert leads to a lush oasis amidst the dry desert landscape.

The Hike:

  • Trailhead: Located just north of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center, within the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. There’s an $8 day-use fee for the campground.
  • Distance: Around 3 miles round trip, with two options: the main trail (follows the wash) and the alternate trail (higher elevation, steeper).
  • Difficulty: Moderate. There’s elevation gain (around 450 feet), and the sun exposure can be intense, especially in summer. The shady portions tucked away in the hillside can get quite cool! Pack layers for this hike.
  • Highlights:
    • Borrego Palm Canyon: The main attraction! This canyon harbors the third-largest native California fan palm oasis in the state, a stunning contrast to the surrounding desert.
    • Waterfalls: Depending on the season, you might find cascading waterfalls at the head of the canyon, fed by a year-round creek.
    • Desert flora and fauna: Keep an eye out for fascinating desert plants like ocotillo cacti and cholla, and maybe even spot bighorn sheep or desert birds.

Tips for Hiking:

      • Go early: The hike can get pretty hot, especially in the afternoon. Aim to start early in the morning, especially during the summer months.
      • Bring plenty of water: Even in mild weather, dehydration is a risk in the desert. Carry enough water for the entire hike and sip frequently.
      • Wear proper footwear: Sturdy hiking boots are recommended for uneven terrain.
      • Protect yourself from the sun: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
      • Leave no trace: Pack out all your trash and respect the natural environment

big horn sheep on palm canyon borrego trail

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! We were fortunate in that a huge herd of Big Horn sheep were down low by the creek munching on wild lavender. We also spotted several rabbits.

Winter Fruit

There’s a farmer’s market that happens on Fridays, but if you are in the area for the Winter season, take a little drive out to Seley Farms. They have a self-service honor system fruit stand where you can pick up bags of citrus fruit. We bought fresh tangerines and ruby red grapefruits at $6 per HUGE bag. What a deal!

Seley Farms Citrus Fruit Stand

Metal Sculptures

The amazing metal sculptures in Borrego Springs, also known as the Galleta Meadows Sculptures are scattered throughout the desert landscape, adding a whimsical and unexpected touch to the arid scenery.

sculpture in borrego desert

  • Number: Over 130 sculptures in total!
  • Artist: Ricardo Breceda, a talented welder and sculptor.
  • Themes: The sculptures depict a variety of subjects, including:
    • Prehistoric animals: Saber-toothed cats, mammoths, sloths, dinosaurs, and other creatures that once roamed the area.
    • Mythical creatures: Dragons, serpents, and other fantastical beings.
    • Local history and culture: Figures like miners, Native Americans, and even a stagecoach.
    • Whimsical creations: A giant metal grasshopper, a dancing couple, and more.
  • Sizes: The sculptures range in size, with some towering over 20 feet tall, while others are more life-sized.
  • Location: The sculptures are spread out across a roughly 22-mile driving tour loop within the Galleta Meadows Estate, near Borrego Springs.

How to Experience the Sculptures:

  • Driving tour: You can easily explore the sculptures by car, following a self-guided map available at local shops and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center.
  • Hiking: Some sculptures are accessible via short hikes, offering a closer look and unique perspectives.
  • Picnic spot: Make a day of it! Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery alongside the sculptures.

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