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Camping at Anza Borrego State Park: Everything You Need to Know

Camping at Anza Borrego State Park is perfect for a spontaneous, off-the-grid adventure weekend in Southern California. With dramatic desert landscapes, slot canyon hikes, and some wacky statues, you’re bound to have a rad time. Keep reading for tips to plan your trip to go camping at Anza Borrego!

camping at Anza Borrego

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Camping at Anza Borrego Trip Overview

  • PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 0
  • Nights: 1
  • Cost: $

How to Get to Anza Borrego State Park

For all my readers who live in Los Angeles or San Diego – you’re in luck. Anza Borrego is only a 2.5-hour drive from LA and a 1.5-hour drive from San Diego. Bonus points if you have a car with 4-wheel drive, as there are a few spots you can only get to with 4WD. If you don’t live in either of these areas, your best bet is to fly into the San Diego airport and rent a car.

Best Time to Visit Anza Borrego

Generally, the best time to visit Anza Borrego State Park is October-May for the most temperate weather. However, I recommend March-April if you are looking to see wildflowers! The presence of wildflowers largely depends on how much rain the area received in the winter months, but if the conditions are right, you have the chance to see the desert covered in bright wildflowers. I went in early April, and there were still a bit of wildflowers left from the Superbloom.

SEE ALSO: Sequoia National Park Itinerary – The Best Things to Do for a Weekend Trip

wildflowers Anza Borrego

Camping at Anza Borrego (and alternative lodging options)

Dispersed Camping:

Unlike most spots in California, camping at Anza Borrego does not require planning months in advance to reserve a campsite. Instead, Anza Borrego offers free dispersed camping, so you can set up camp anywhere in the park! Just make sure that your car is parked no more than one car length off the road (but you can walk further than that to set up your camp) and that you are at least 100 yards away from any water source.

Anza Borrego is a MASSIVE park, so with dispersed camping, you’re guaranteed to get away from the crowds and have all the space you need to enjoy nature. With dispersed camping, since there is no actual campground, there are no amenities and no bathrooms. Make sure you bring enough water and pack out any trash. We found it diffcult to choose which area of the park to set up camp, but ended up going right near the slot canyon and finding a spot nearby off the road to pre-position to get to the slot canyon early in the morning.

Dispersed camping Anza Borrego

Campgrounds:

If you want to camp at Anza Borrego, but also want some basic amenities, there are a few campgrounds you can choose from to reserve on ReserveCalifornia.com . Campground reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Hotels:

If you don’t want to go camping at Anza Borrego State Park, there are a few hotel options in the surrounding town of Borrego Springs. I’ve heard great things about the Borrego Springs Resort and Spa!

Best Hikes and Sights in Anza Borrego

  • Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls
    • This 4.9-mile roundtrip hike is beautiful! It starts out in the open desert landscape, and then meanders through small streams, up and over boulders and through a palm tree oasis before you reach Maidenhair Falls at the end. The trail is not well marked, but if you follow the general direction upstream, you can figure out which boulders to scramble over to get there the easiest. Make sure you pack more water than you think you need – the dry heat will get you! I recommend doing this hike first upon arriving to the area.
  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
    • I recommend doing this 2.9-mile trail if you don’t feel up for the 4.9 mile Hellhole Canyon trail above. This is one of the most popular trails in Anza Borrego, so it will likely be crowded. Put “Borrego Palm Canyon Trailhead” in your GPS to make sure you go to the correct parking lot. It costs $10 to enter, and there are restrooms in the parking area. This loop trail features a beautiful palm tree oasis! Unfortunately, the parking lot was full when we tried to go, so I was not able to check it out for myself. Maybe you’ll have better luck!
  • Galleta Meadow Statues
    • These iconic statues are what initially drew me to go camping at Anza Borrego. These 30 statues are scattered throughout the desert as a permanent art installation by artist Ricardo Breceda and include a serpent that goes on both sides of the road, dinosaurs, a grasshopper, and more. You can stop by the visitor center in Borrego Springs and pick up a map that tells you where each statue is located. My favorite was the dinosaurs located off-the-beaten-path, as we had the place to ourselves. Technically you need 4WD to access these ones, but it didn’t seem too difficult for a 2WD car to get to them.
Anza Borrego statues
Borrego Springs statues
  • The Slot
    • There are a few slot canyons in Anza Borrego State Park, but this one is named “The Slot” (your Google Maps will take you there) and is the most popular one. Follow the trailhead at the parking lot that will take you down into the slot canyon on a 2.3-mile loop trail, and meander your way through the red canyon walls.
slot canyon Anza Borrego
  • Font’s Point
    • This scenic lookout point of the Anza Borrego badlands is breathtaking! It’s even nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of California”. To get here, you need 4WD to drive down a 4-mile sandy road which will lead directly to the lookout point. I have read about people doing it without 4WD – it just depends on the conditions that day. Use your best judgment!
Font's point Anza Borrego
  • Stargazing
    • Anza Borrego State Park is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park, which means its an AMAZING place for stargazing. If you’re camping at Anza Borrego, you’ll definitely want to spend some time laying on the ground at night and checking out the stars above. It’s stunning! I wish I could have captured it on camera, but I haven’t learned night photography yet. Next time!

Packing List for Camping at Anza Borrego State Park

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Enjoy!!

camping at Anza Borrego

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