Tourist First

Travel notes and advice from around the world. Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

Monday, March 25, 2019

California: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Desert sunflowers create a field of yellow in front of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Spring 2019 has been a time of bloom booms in the deserts of Southern California. An unusually wet winter has not only ended years of drought, it has spurred billions of wildflowers to explode with color in otherwise brown or gray landscapes.

One of the best places to see this fairly rare phenomenon is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, about two hours northeast of our home in San Diego. It's an easy day trip, but next time it happens, we'll try to stay overnight so we can see even more.

Anza-Borrego is more than 600,000 acres of diverse desert landscape including and east of the Peninsular Mountains of San Diego County. (It encompasses several other mountain ranges, too.) Our drive took us on winding, high-altitude mountain roads with cliffs on one side and sheer drops on the other, and across flat sandy desert floors. The mountains appear as heaps of gigantic boulders, many of them seemingly poised to roll down and squash passing cars. Temperatures in the park in summer can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 52 degrees centigrade), and visitors are warned about car breakdowns in the park's vast expanses: "Will you be comfortable if you have to spend a night or two in your car?"

Here are some snapshots of our visit to the park.
Wildflowers and cacti spring from the desert sand,

Sand verbena.

Dune evening primrose.

It looks as if imagined by a water-color painter, but the landscaping is entirely natural and unplanned.

Desert lily.

An unexpected treat near the park and near the town of Borrego Springs
was a field of gigantic metal sculptures created by local artist
Ricardo Breceda. Flower visitors can simply turn off  the paved road
and drive up to see these rust-colored wonders. 
A cricket and a scorpion. 

Grapes are forever harvested in a large installation with many figures such as these.

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