A guest post BY Joe Laing, El MONTE RV
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals, your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see elmontervsales.com/.
My friend was planning to travel to Southern California for an RV vacation and called me. He knew I had provided itineraries to many travelers throughout the years, so he wanted to take advantage of my vast knowledge and find the best California state park to visit. I was happy to oblige. Knowing he loved wildlife, birding and ATV riding, I picked the best place where he could find plenty of all three – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
This is California’s largest state park, with 600,000 acres and hundreds of miles of dirt roads and beautiful wilderness areas. The wonders of the desert are all around, with the opportunity to see magnificent wildflower displays and amazing vistas. I could think of no other park where he would find such ideal weather for a winter RV trip, nor could I think of another place where the wildlife and birding opportunities were so unique.
The park itself extends through eastern San Diego County while reaching into both Riverside and Imperial Counties, and includes two towns, Borrego Springs and Shelter Valley. In Borrego Springs, my friend can find RV camping at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. His RV motorhome is 35 feet long, the maximum length allowed at this campground, so it will be perfect! He will be happy with the full hookups and close proximity to dump station, hiking and nature trails and many birds. The campground is a mile north of the park headquarters and easy to find.
I told him that he should get ready for the views as he approaches. The great bowl of the desert spreads out before him, mountains to every side. To the south are the Vallecito Mountains with the Santa Rosa Mountains to the north. He won’t be able to get into those wilderness areas as there are no roads, but he won’t need to with all there is to see right in the Anza-Borrego desert.
Wildlife is Plentiful in the Park
My buddy wants wildlife – wildlife he’ll get. In this diverse landscape he will have the opportunity to see mule deer, kit foxes, iguanas and perhaps a red diamond rattlesnake. Of course, other wildlife sightings will include coyotes, jackrabbits, ground squirrels and kangaroo rats. The one animal he probably won’t get a glimpse of is the elusive desert bighorn. This peninsular bighorn sheep keeps his distance and only a few people are patient enough to observe and count this endangered species to see how they are faring.
The Birds of Anza-Borrego
Besides greater roadrunners, quail, prairie falcons and golden eagles, there is the famous Swainson’s hawks. These birds migrate every spring to their North American breeding grounds and in the fall to their South American wintering grounds. I had to tell my friend that he must make a point of joining those who take part in the Borrego Valley Hawkwatch so he can see these magnificent birds. It is very lucky for him that he is arriving in mid-February, as the watches go on from 15 February to 15 April. If he is an early riser, he can watch them take off between 8 and 9 am or he can arrive at the Evening Hawkwatch Site on Borrego Valley Road an hour before sunset.
The Flora of Anza-Borrego Desert
We can’t neglect the flora! In late February or early March the wildflowers create such displays as to take your breath away. I told my friend he should stay a few weeks so he will be sure not to miss this elegant and colorful panorama of blooms. The brittlebush lends its yellow and the chuparosa adds its red to the rainbows of hues. The timing is hard to predict, based on rainfall and temperatures, but if he is patient he will find the washes of color hard to resist and certainly he will have thousands of photos to add to his collection.
In these landscapes with so many forms, plant life abounds. He will view sage, cactus shrub, Palo Verde trees and Smoke trees. In the east and to the north he will find pine forests, oaks and Manzanitas. It is such a wide variety with the mountains as background, it is sure to inspire.
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
To add to the excitement, the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area is right next door to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The off-road fun awaiting my friend is virtually endless here. My friend was enthusiastic upon hearing of the additional opportunities to get out on his ATV. He plans first to do the self-guided tour.
Yes, my friend is most certainly excited about coming to Anza-Borrego. Now to convince him to make room for me in his RV!