Monday, March 28, 2016

Anza Borrego State Park

From Agua Caliente Regional Park to our next stop at Anza Borrego Desert State Park's Palm Canyon Campground was a pretty 45 mile drive through the desert. We chose to stay in one of the full hookup sites at Palm Canyon. These sites had better separation than our last stop but were barely long enough to hold our 35 foot 5th wheel and big truck.

Awesome sunset on our first evening,

And equally beautiful sunrise the next morning!

For our first hike we chose to walk up Palm Canyon right from our campsite. This is a very popular trail, especially in the spring, so we made sure to get out early. We ended up hiking about 5 miles round trip, including at least half a mile past the palm grove where most folks turn around. On our return to the main palm grove we encountered lots of people (midweek) but taking the Alternate Trail back was more solitary and added another perspective to this wonderful hike.



Three lizards enjoying morning sun.




It's a bit of a challenge to scramble beyond the first palm grove,
but what awaits you up canyon is beauty and solitude beyond compare.



I was fortunate to spot this red diamond rattler sun bathing from a good distance.

We were even able to stand on the rock above him for another perspective before he slithered underneath.

Every canyon hike in Anza Borrego requires grippy shoes for lots of rock scrambling!
Poppies and shadows.

Another hike to an oasis near our camp site was Hellhole Canyon. This five mile out-and-back hike ends at a lovely little waterfall alcove full of maidenhair ferns. The scrambling up canyon gets pretty hairy in the last quarter mile or so but the payoff was more water at the fall than we've seen in years past.

Ocotillo blooms are brilliant splashes of color against desert mountains.

Brittlebush provides fantastic color up every canyon we hike.

A couple of warblers enjoy the stream.


Maidenhair falls...that is a pretty good flow thanks to a decent amount of rain this winter.



Any trip to Borrego Springs should include a tour of Galetta Meadows.

One of many fantastic metal sculptures spread across the desert around Borrego Springs.

Our last hike in this area was supposed to be Pinion Wash to Harper Flat, an area extensively used by Native Americans. We made a wrong turn while driving Pinion Wash and ended up hiking Nolina Wash, one canyon over from our intended goal. No matter...Nolina Wash was lovely and we even found some morteros and another Three-Lined Boa. Harper Flat will be waiting for us the next time we're in this area!

Native American morteros.

Three-Lined Boas (formerly Rosy Boas) are native to a small segment of Southern California.
We've seen three of them in as many weeks!

There was a wonderful variety of rock throughout this wash.

This ended up being our turn around point about 2.5 miles up the wash.
Hans scrambled up the left side of this boulder and said it was getting more difficult up stream.

Carefully maneuvering down the other side.

Anza Borrego's Palm Canyon Campground was a good home base for exploring another section of this huge state park. We chose to stay in the full hookup section and found our pull through site just barely big enough to hold our 35 foot 5th wheel and truck.

Verizon signal was strong but the tower was so overloaded we had frustratingly slow internet access.

Even though the sites at Palm Canyon had better separation than those at Agua Caliente Regional Park, we overall preferred Agua Caliente for its location, variety of trails and hot pools.

Next up: we move on to the mountains for a brief stay before heading back to San Diego.

22 comments:

  1. Lovely! But I squirmed when I saw photos of snake! So glad to see you back in your element for a break.

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    1. I've been on high alert on every single hike lately with the snakes out and about. Fortunately the boas are non venomous!

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  2. Great pics!, and a lovely boa too. We have not enjoyed that experience, thankfully! Holiday Homes offers full-hookups and excellent WiFi for about the same price as the State Park. Hiking Palm Canyon form the VC adds about a mile, but it's an easy paved mile :)

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  3. We so love this area. Great pic of sun-bathing-Hans up the canyon! The diamondback is spectacular - it's still too cold around Flagstaff to find many critters out and about. So glad you shared yours! Not easy to get a photo of the serpent without other people in it - nice timing :-) His new stuff is in a big lot near Aguanga if you need a sloth or dinosaur for the 5er!

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    1. You aren't kidding....I had to wait a bit to get that serpent shot! We'll have to check out the Aguanga sculptures!

      I love seeing snakes on the trail...as long as I have good separation!

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  4. That was definitely an awesome sunset you had. Love the pictures. I’d for sure hike a bit beyond for beauty and solitude beyond compare. Good spotting that rattler. I’m always on higher alert in the west than the east for poisonous snakes. I’m wondering what shoes you would say are “grippy” shoes. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a pair of shoes that really felt grippy. That’s a really sweet warbler picture. I always think that it is a big benefit to hike trails multiple times and see how they change. If there just weren’t so many trails to hike I could do a better job of multiple times. I’ve never seen a live boa in the wild. Cool! Thanks for the heads up on both campgrounds.

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    1. Well we wear Merrill hiking shoes, but I believe most "hiking" shoes would have soles that grip granite boulders. Our shoes have Vibram soles.

      It really is fun to see the seasonal and annual changes on the "same old" trails!

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  5. Beautiful pictures. Scrambling those bulders was quite an accomplishment.

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    1. There were some tough spots in each of these canyons!

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  6. Lovely desert pics! I love the flowers and palm trees. Glad you are having a good break.

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    1. It's so different from your neck of the woods,isn't it?!?!

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  7. You have a lot of pictures of snakes. The scenery is spectacular, however. Snakes just give me the willies.

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    1. Bet you were squirming looking at the photos! ;-)

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  8. So beautiful -- those are our some of our favorite hikes in the area. But we've never seen any snakes! Maybe that's because we've only been there in February and it's still pretty chilly. Your sunset and sunrise photos are gorgeous!

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  9. I've seen pictures of those giant metal sculptures on several blogs now. They look truly amaing!

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  10. The sunset was pretty, but for me it is always a treat to welcome a new day with a magnificent sunrise! Wonderful hikes as always you two! The madenhair ferns and the falls is a beautiful site in the desert! But the warblers in the stream is awesome!

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  11. Gee, I can't get over all the water! When we hiked Palm Canyon at the end of Nov, it was dry except for the area just before to the palm grove. Last year we did Hellhole Canyon intent on finding that darn Maidenhair Falls which we couldn't find during our first visit. We hiked to the top of that canyon and realized we missed it since we were just about out. That was crazy with all the loose rock. I'm surprised we made it back down without injury. But...we heard a faint trickle on our way back down. We found it...by accident:) It was barely dripping. I can't believe you had a real waterfall!! Wow! Two snakes too many!! Glad you had a nice visit:)

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  12. So great to see places we have yet to hike in Anza. Loved the upcanyon tip, and will definitely try that next time we are in that area.

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  13. Love the palm groves. They seem so out of place but feel so nice during a hike. the snakes, not so much.

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  14. Love your blog. My brother and his family live in Santee. They have a 31 foot motorhome and are constantly out and about. My dad and wife too, so I shared your site with them. I live in San Luis Obispo, up the road from you all. Am embarking on a two week road trip from CA to Denver in May. Taking 15 through Nevada/Utah to I70 east to Denver. VERY interested in your trips in Utah as I haven't been able to pin down exactly where I'm staying each night. I'm a planner, and winging it makes me anxious... plus I'm traveling with a friend who is pulling a 26 foot trailer (and a newbie to RVing) so it would be two of us trying to find an RV spot each night.

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    1. Glad to have you on board Lee! We too are planners. I hope some of our previous posts can help you on your adventure. We LOVE Utah!

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