Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
via Joshua Tree National Park
February 11-13, 2005
|Cucamonga Manroot (a wild cucumber)
On Friday I left Springville at 1:30 pm and headed south to Bakersfield. I didn't know
exactly where I was going to go when I left, all I knew is I was headed to the desert...
but after I got a hold of my mom on her cell phone and she said she and my dad would be
able to meet me out in Anza-Borrego, well, that's where I headed.
A belt of rain was moving across southern California that evening but I didn't encounter
any rain until I came to Landers, just north of Joshua Tree National Park. And what a
storm it was, it was coming down hard and the highway was flooded in many areas. I
decided that when you're driving across the Mojave Desert in a fierce rain storm the
best song to listen to is "Two Step" by the Dave Matthews Band. Its steady rhythm
seemed to match the rhythm of the rain. Soon enough I made it to Yucca Valley and
stopped for some dinner. I made the decision to drive into Joshua Tree National Park
and stay there for the night then continue my trek to Anza-Borrego in the morning.
I saw two jackrabbits that night cross the road as I made my way to Jumbo Rocks
Campground. It was raining lightly when I arrived but the rain let up around 9:00 pm
and that was the last of it I saw all weekend. I slept quite peacefully all night long and
woke up before sunrise. I got dressed and walked to the south end of the campground
then out over the desert to take pictures of the sunrise. There were in fact several
sunrises that morning as the sun rose over belts of clouds. Behind me was a dark front
of clouds that contrasted so nicely with the rocks and Joshua trees being lit up with the
early morning sun.
On the way back to my campsite I started not feeling so good. Ugh, stomach bugs are the
worst, especially when you're camping. When I was feeling well enough again I packed up
and got back on the road. I drove to the south end of the park which is lower in elevation
and there I saw my first desert wildflowers... lupine and pincushion in were most profuse!
And their fragrance rose up from the desert floor being warmed by the morning sun; it was
so lovely. That and the cacophany of birds singing that morning, it was a sensory overload!
I left the park and drove west on I-10 a little ways to Coachella. This stretch of freeway
is beautiful right now - lupine and desert sunflowers carpet the desert on either side. In
Coachella I drove south along the western shore of the Salton Sea and then turned west to
head to Anza-Borrego.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the Lower 48. It's a huge
expanse of mountains and canyons and badlands and this time of year nearly all of it is
green! Well, green interspersed with carpets of yellow, pink, purple, red, blue, and white
My first stop was the visitor center and there I picked up some info and then my stomach
started grumbling again. So I decided to stay in Palm Canyon campground which has flush
toilets and showers even. It was a wise decision, I would've liked to go off and find some
remote place to camp but I ended up being sick most of the afternoon :( But I had a few
memorable animal encounters as I was sitting around camp trying to get better. A
roadrunner came up quite close to me and hummingbirds visited the bright red chuparosa
flowers near my tent all afternoon.
My parents came around 3:00 pm and we took a short walk around my campsite then took a
drive up S-22, a crazy steep road that climbs thousands of feet in just a short time. We
took a few pics then headed to their hotel room which had a kitchenette where we made
dinner. While my parents had tostadas I could only stomach a little bit of applesauce and a
few crackers. But it stayed down, the first food that I'd had all day, so I was happy. My
parents tried to get me to stay in the hotel with them but I thought I'd be okay in my tent
so my dad drove me back over to my campsite and we made a small fire and talked for a
little bit. Then he left and I crawled into my tent and was asleep as soon as my head hit
In the morning I awoke to coyotes singing and I felt much better, thank goodness, so I ate
cream-of-wheat for breakfast and had some tea and then my parents came over. We
geared up for a little hike and off we went up Borrego Palm Canyon.
Palm Canyon is an absolute jewel of a hike. My parents and I hiked it once before, about 12
years ago when I was still in high school. It was fall the last time we went and we saw a
herd of bighorn sheep (see last two photos). No sheep this time but the wildflowers made
up for their absence. I have never seen so many flowers in the desert before. And there
was a lot of water coming down the canyon. About one and a half miles up there is a palm
oasis. There is a main trail that basically follows the creek but it was largely wiped out in a
flood that occured last fall. There is an alternate trail that follows the rocky hillside and
it's tougher but more beautiful. We went up the main trail and came down the alternate
trail. Walking down the alternate trail was like walking through the most beautiful desert
wildflower garden you can imagine. We saw about 30 different species of wildflowers!
I'm still working on identifying a few but here's the ones I know we saw...
Brown-eyed evening primrose
Dune evening primrose
There were lots of folks on the main trail but hardly a soul on the alternate trail. We took
our time and very much enjoyed our flower hunting. Many desert wildflowers are small and
they are harder to spot. But many are showy as were the gold poppies and the brittlebush.
It was a great hike and I'm so glad my parents were able to come with me. They've never
been big hikers but occasionally I've been able to get them out on the trail :)
Around noon we made it back to my campsite and I'm glad we did the hike before then as it
was quite warm. I took down my tent and then we headed into town for lunch. Then we
parted, my parents headed back for San Diego and I headed northwest to my home.
|Chuparosa (the hummingbirds were all over this shrub!)
|Desert Gold or Desert Sunflower... Can you see how it's
carpeting the desert out towards the cliffs?
|Gold poppies and Rock Daisies
|Gold poppy and Desert Chicory
|Geranium and popcorn flower
|Mom and Dad hiking along the alternate trail
|Wispy clouds float high overhead the canyon walls
|Green canyon walls accented with yellow sunflowers and a
sky ever so finely streaked with clouds
|Can you see the carpets of purplish pink sand verbena?
|Sand verbena and brown-eyed evening primrose
|Sand verbena up close, definitely one of my favorites that I saw
|Brown-eyed Evening Primrose
|View looking south from S-22
|Peninsular Bighorn Sheep
This photo was taken on our hike up Palm Canyon in 1993 and hand
processed and printed by me in high school :)
|The waterfall at the oasis, another pic taken in 1993