Borrego Springs, California

by Will

Maidenhair Falls

Maidenhair Falls

Borrego Springs, in Southern California between San Diego and the Salton Sea, is surrounded by the wilderness of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and makes a perfect base camp for exploring the park. There's an abundance of interesting features like palm oasis, waterfalls, slot canyons, Native American petroglyphs and grinding holes, rare elephant trees, badlands, and countless fascinating geological formations. A number of excellent hiking trails in the park show off the outstanding scenery. A handful of these trails start within walking distance of town, at the state park visitor’s center off Palm Canyon Drive.

The town of Borrego Springs has much to offer too. There are golf courses, tennis courts, jeep tours, bicycle tours and rentals, and don’t miss Galleta Meadows - it’s hard not to. You’ll spot magnificent life sculptures throughout town and in the open desert. Keep your eyes peeled for prehistoric animals, some that called Borrego Valley home millions of years ago. There are dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, saber-tooth cats, giant tortoises, monstrous birds, and even a dragon like serpent.

Lush green groves of citrus trees and palms can be found on the outskirts of town. Borrego Valley produces delicious dates, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and lemons - all of which are sold at roadside stands and at every Friday mornings farmer’s market held at Christmas Circle in the center of town. The farmer’s market also has an abundance of other fresh produce, seafood, honey, jams and jellies, flowers, and fudge. Don’t miss it as there’s more variety of produce here than what the local grocery store carries.

Elevation: 597 feet

Free Campsites: There are countless free campsites in and around Borrego Springs. Camping is allowed for up to 5 days at many of the Galleta Meadows sites, where you can camp among giant beasts made of metal. There is also camping at Clark Lake and at the Peg Leg Smith Historical Marker northeast of town.

Borrego Springs Map

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Borrego Springs RV Camping Journal

March 20th, 2013

With the recent burst of color from the yellow wildflowers that are now covering the desert, it’s obvious that spring is here! Many of the cacti are just beginning to bloom too. The ocotillo are blooming with red flowers. Some of the creosote bushes are showing their yellow flowers. It's a beautiful time to be in the desert!

Recreation: Not only is there water for the palm and citrus groves, there are several springs up in the mountains that sustain lush palm oasis. I’ve discovered from experience that there is nothing more beautiful than a waterfall in the desert. You’ll have to lace up the hiking shoes to have the same experience, but it’s well worth it.

There are two hikes that take you to paradise: Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail and Maidenhair Falls Trail up Hellhole Canyon. I highly recommend doing both, but if it’s too hot to handle, then Borrego Palm Canyon is shorter and easier at 3 miles roundtrip. This hike leads you to one of the largest oasis in the United States, with over 800 native palms. You’ll find refreshing shade among the palms and a 15 foot waterfall among the giant boulders. Cool off and enjoy this watery paradise!

The hike up Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls is more difficult at 6 miles roundtrip, and requires some rock scrambling to reach the falls. It might feel like a hellhole starting off on a hot day, but once you reach the cool spring water it feels like heaven. You’ll come to some giant boulders and will have to look closely to find the falls – just

follow the water and listen for the falls. You’ll find a 20 foot waterfall with lush green moss and maidenhair ferns. Keep an eye out for Native American grinding holes along the way, and look up at the canyon walls for bighorn sheep. I saw 3 rams descend down from the mountain side, then appear about 50 yards behind me on the trail!

The Anza Borrego Foundation offers educational hikes, tours, classes, and lectures in the state park. Many of these are free of charge and are led by volunteer naturalists. A full schedule of activities can be picked up at the state park visitor's center off Palm Canyon Drive.

Peacefulness: Borrego Springs and Borrego Valley are extremely peaceful. Traffic is very light in and around this small community. There isn't much air traffic either, just a few small planes and a military jet or helicopter now and then.

Weather: There are regular bouts of wind here, and it's almost always out of the west. When these winds occur, which is every few days, they typically come with 20-30 mph gusts. I did have 50 mph gusts with a couple of these systems, and one wind whopper which brought 100 mph gusts! A couple storms brought some light rain and a dusting of snow to the mountain tops, which was lovely. The most recent storm occurred about a week ago and it brought a spectacular full rainbow to my campsite!

Three weeks ago temperatures were cooler with lows in the 40s and highs about 70. It’s warmed up in the last couple weeks to 50s and 60s for lows, and 80s and 90s for highs. I’ve had lots of sun with only a few cloudy and partly cloudy days.

Orientating the RV east/west is pretty much mandatory here, as this situates the rig parallel to the wind, which blows from the west. Here's why...

Borrego Springs Wind & Dust Storm Video

I was told that spring was the windiest time of the year in Borrego Springs. They weren't joking. This storm brought 100 mph gusts that lowered my 5th wheel 3 inches on one side as it blew the sand and pebbles from underneath my jack stand. It also ripped my already damaged awning (which was retracted and not out), and blew a roof vent cover off. I'm just happy my RV remained in the upright position! Here's the video...

Wildlife: Jackrabbits love it here. Same for coyotes, which love to eat the jackrabbits. At my campsite I saw quite a few coyotes strolling by and could often hear their yippings in the mornings or evenings. For birds I saw roadrunners, hummingbirds, gambel’s quail, ravens, turkey vultures, mourning doves, and eagles. Other wildlife included bighorn sheep rams and canyon tree frogs in Hellhole Canyon during my hike. I also saw ground squirrels, a few bats, and several lizards large and small.

Cell Signal: Excellent Verizon cell signal in and around town. Once you leave Borrego Valley to explore Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, cell service is pretty much zilch.

Water/RV Dump: Potable water and RV dump stations can be found at:

  • Palm Canyon Campground: In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park just west of town off Palm Canyon Drive
  • Palm Canyon Resort: At the west end of town off Palm Canyon Drive
  • Springs at Borrego RV Resort: At the northeast end of town off Di Giorgio Road

RV Solar: 98% sun in Borrego Valley

Borrego Springs Campsite Rating: 10 out of 10. It can be windy at times, but this truly is a desert paradise. Borrego Valley is extremely peaceful, the scenery is magnificent, recreation is boundless, and Borrego Springs just has that friendly small town appeal. It's a winter home in heaven, and although I didn't stay till summer, summer may be elsewhere!

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