Over Spring Break, I truly fell in love with the desert. At first, I was not sure what to expect. I only went camping once and definitely not in a desert. T, my love, was beyond excited and I was too! T and I left on a Monday. We tried to park near the Visitor Center. But, there was a long line of cars parked on the street! It was CRAZY packed! I knew almost everyone traveled to see the Super Bloom which is well worth seeing! However, Borrego has SO much more to offer than just the flowers and I encourage you to check out some hidden gems!
There’s this quote that resonates with me because of the incredible experience I had at Anza-Borrego. For those who view the desert as just hot, be brave and explore.
For there are two deserts: One is a grim desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable heat…visualized by those children of luxury to whom any environment is intolerable which does not provide all the comforts and luxuries of a pampering civilization.
The other desert –the real desert– is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the fearful soul of the cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance, and understanding. For those, the desert holds rare gifts.
First Hike: Hellhole Canyon
So, we decided to hike the first trail we saw upon entering Anza-Borrego. It turned out to be Hellhole Canyon! One of the hikes I pinned on my bucket list board. It was the high 80s (while the other two days were the 70s) and we hiked during the hottest peak of the day (smart, I know). However, we were overprepared for the trip which is what you WANT. We made sure to have at least a gallon of drinking water in our backpacks.
Okay, confession time….This hike challenged my perseverance. I probably stopped for a break more than 6 times on this hike. I am not the fittest person, but I am working on it! 🙂 I discovered Anza-Borrego is not the greatest with signs. I and other hikers were confused at where to go to find the waterfall. The streams washed away the trails and a lot of boulder hopping were involved in finding the waterfall -which was really fun! My best piece of advice is to set foot towards the Palm trees and you’ll find the waterfall. As you can see, it was absolutely beautiful. We ate our PB&Js by the waterfall after taking a dip.
Other hikers arrived and asked if this was the first waterfall. Confused, we asked, “are there more?” They were unsure as well. So, T and I decided to hike behind the waterfall in search of more! There was a trail in the beginning. Then, it kept appearing and disappearing. The terrain was brutal. Thorns and plants were scratching against my skin. Sadly, we did not find any waterfalls, but the view was still beautiful.
(Trying to) Setting Up Camp
The hike was 6 miles round-trip. Our off trailing hike was about 1.3 miles. I’m proud to have hiked about 8 miles in a day! For the night, we set base at the Arroyo primitive campground. On a windy night, AVOID THIS AREA! While it is beautiful and I climbed a hill to view all of Anza Borrego, I did not sleep. The wind was loud. T, however, slept like a baby. While we were setting up camp, the tent kept flying away and our tent package didn’t come with stakes! (The package said it did.) We put T’s weights and the cooler to keep it grounded. Out of the corner of my eye, I swore I saw the tent move. T thought it was impossible. There was too much weight holding the tent down! A minute later, the cooler tipped over and water filled our tent. I immediately started laughing. Lesson learned. Never underestimate Mother Nature.
Best Places To Look for Wildflowers
The next morning we went to see the flowers! I heard and researched the best wildflowers are going on to Henderson Canyon and then DiGiorno Street. Once I saw them, I wondered how can something so beautiful blossom in something I had considered a desolate furnace of hell.
Second Hike: Palm Canyon
After the flowers, we hiked Borrego’s most popular hikes: Palm Canyon. In total, this is a 6-mile hike IF you are starting from the Visitor Center which is located near the trailhead. It’s an additional mile if you’re parked down the road since they closed the street heading towards the visitor center. The flowers and plants on the hike are beyond beautiful! If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some Bighorn sheep! To arrive at the Oasis, again, hike toward the Palm trees. Once you do, you will not regret it. The pool was enchanting and refreshing. After taking a dip, we decided to go off trailing again. This time, there was LOADS of waterfalls! Loads of boulder hopping as well. I’m a water creature and I was in heaven. We came across some hikers coming down and we asked if there were more waterfalls. Apparently, they were swimming in a pool right around the bend. How cool!
Where to Camp & Last Day
The second night, with stars shining bright, we camped at Yaqui Pass. It was serene and quiet. Contentful. The next day, we headed to hike Slot Canyon. The rocks you see below are 4 to 5 millions years old! Also, Anza-Borrego used to be an ocean, then a lake, and now a desert. How can you believe climate change isn’t real? Continuing on, to find where Slot Canyon is, head to the visitor center and grab a map! Speak with the Rangers as well. You have to go off roading for this one. There is a sign a mile in, but that’s it. There were so many trails and we headed in the wrong direction and did not end up finding the Slot. Do your research before you arrive! Slot Canyon, I will be back
If you want to check out more Anza Borrego photos, check out my Anza Borrego Album!