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Tips for seeing the Wildflowers at Anza-Borrego (Borrego Springs)

About a month ago, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with posts about the rare #superbloom in the deserts in Southern California as a result of all the rain. One featured location, Anza-Borrego (in Borrego Springs), particularly interested me. Three miles from Los Angeles, Eastern San Diego didn’t seem like a long drive for a day trip, especially since the hotels and vacation rentals were either completely booked or beyond what we felt like paying (most hotels were resorts, at $350.00/night). However, it was.

One of the things my husband and I wanted to “bring back” to our marriage was spontaneity. So last Sunday, March 19th, we drove out to the desert with nothing but a few snacks, my camera, and the address for the visitor’s center in Anza-Borrego. I loved the pictures I took, but realized being spontaneous does not suit me.

SO, if you plan on checking out the wildflowers in Borrego Springs, here are some TIPS (AKA – “things I wish I thought about before we went”) for a more successful visit:

Stay Overnight

Even if the hotels in Borrego Valley are booked, it’s worth it to find a hotel in a nearby town such as Escondido or Temecula. Six hours of driving for a day trip is kind of crazy. That kind of crazy is fun when you’re single, but not when you have a impatient three-year old.

Pack food and plenty of WATER in a cooler

I rarely travel to the desert, so I didn’t realize how hot it could get. We packed snacks, but should have made sandwiches or something because the restaurants in that area had long lines AND some of them (such as the Mexican food casual dining spot where we ate) even raised their prices because of the tourists (masking tape with new prices on top of the menu on the wall). Oh, and when packing food, it’s a good idea to get something that will take a long time to digest 😉

It is HOT and sunny in the desert. Pack PLENTY of cold water. In fact, I should buy one of these double walled water bottle that keeps liquids cold for 24 hours. That way, you don’t have to use valuable trunk space. We saw Girl Scouts selling cups of lemonade for $3 out of van. That’s how hot it was!

Print out directions

Not sure how good your phone service is, but mine was horrible once we drove east of Temecula, so our GPS was useless. I wish we had thought of printing directions, but thankfully there were signs to Anza-Borrego State Park.

Plan on arriving early

By the time we “spontaneously” left Los Angeles, it was around 9:30am. We arrived at Borrego Springs at 12:30. It was extremely hot and too late to park at Anza-Borrego State Park. I didn’t get a look at the size of the parking lot, but the park rangers closed the main entrance with barricades at that time. If you wanted to get inside the park, it would be a long walk to get to the entrance, and with little ones in tow, it’s not very convenient.

Check the Anza-Borrego Natural History Association Website for Wildflower Updates

I learned about the Anza-Borrego Natural History Association because they had a stand with free flower maps near the place we parked for lunch, outside the Anza-Borrego Desert Nature Center (652 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004). They hand out printed maps they update daily with information based on reports where to see wildflowers, and which varieties. If you go to the flower update section of their website, you can sign up for e-mail updates.

Thank goodness we got that map, because it gave us alternate places to check out the wildflowers. The area on Henderson Canyon Road, east of Borrego Canyon Road was recommended by the guide, so that’s the area we checked out. We probably spent a little under an hour there, due to the heat and it getting late.

Take lots of pictures!

The last time it bloomed this much was 2005, so take lots of pictures!

My photos below:


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Anza-Borrego Links

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association