Did you know that California has a Colorado Desert?

It does.

And within it, at just a two-hour drive northeast from San Diego, lies the Anza Borrego Desert, named for an 18th Spanish explorer (Anza) and a the Spanish word for bighorn sheep (Borrego). Sound like somewhere you’d like to go? Well.

It should.

The Anza Borrego is the largest California State Park spanning more than 600,00 acres. Which means: hiking trails and designated wilderness (land untouched by developers), and vast areas to explore. It is framed by dramatic mountain ranges such as the Jacumba and the Pinyon, rich with colorful badlands and rock formations, and wildflowers pop through cracked desert soil after a hard rain.

The Blair Valley Area has four established hiking trails. The California Riding and Hiking Trail is the longest in the park, rising to 5,000ft and dropping below 1,000ft in Borrego Springs. Tent campers pitch in Little Blair Valley.

The Borrego Badlands, which was once undersea, is a patch 20 miles wide by 15 miles long. There are hills and arroyos and, not to be missed: Seventeen Palms Oasis, the Pumpkin Patch, and Font’s Point–one of the easier driving trails, that takes you through terrain and to a point that overlooks the desert scenery of the Badlands. Remember, you’re looking at rocks that date millions of years, all shaped by erosion.

Fish Creek Canyon is known as a “geological wonderland”, where you will find little vegetation but a bounty of wildlife. It’s known for its geology, twisting canyons and caves, and raised fossil reefs. Olla Wash in Fish Creek offers good camping and picnicking spots.

And while in the Park if you’re lucky (though it is rare) you can see the endangered Bighorn Sheep in their natural environment.

-Arianna Schioldager

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