After hiking to see the palm oasis in Borrego Palm Canyon, you can head back to the community of Borrego Springs for lunch and a little relaxation. Borrego Springs is surrounded by Anza Borrego State Park, though the town itself is not part of the park.
Borrego Springs’ centerpiece is Christmas Circle, the area inside the huge roundabout in the middle of town.
The downtown business district extends to the west of Christmas Circle, on the road that leads towards Borrego Palm Canyon and the park’s visitor center.
Earlier in the day, when I had told a worker at the visitor center that I planned to drive through the park, all the way to its southern end, she was excited. I guess not a lot of people explore Anza Borrego’s southern reaches. She told me that the drive would easily take the rest of the day, and I would still have to skip some of the attractions along the way. She was right. Not only is Anza Borrego huge (the second-largest state park in America), but also there’s no direct route south. To get there, you have to zig-zag.
As you head south from Borrego Springs, something unexpected catches your eye: an elephant…
… then a horse…
… and even a saber-tooth tiger. They are all sculptures at Galleta Meadows, depicting the creatures that once roamed through Anza Borrego and the rest of the Sonoran Desert.
There are quite a few dirt roads that branch off the main highway, allowing you to drive up to the sculptures.
Bill Kenyon Trail at Yaqui Pass
South of Desert Lodge, Highway S3 has a little climbing to do, to get out of the basin that’s home to Borrego Springs.
Yaqui Pass is at an elevation of 1750 feet. At the top, a poorly marked trailhead (watch for the call box) allows you to go on a short hike to a great view of the neighboring valley.
Bill Kenyon Trail takes less than 10 minutes to hike, but you might be huffing and puffing by the time you reach the end. It’s uphill all the way to the viewpoint on the ridge.
At the viewpoint, I struggled to stand, because of the breeze blowing up from the desert floor, but I was still able to enjoy the view. Highway 78 runs through this valley, eastbound towards the Salton Sea. (Later, we’ll turn onto Highway 78, but we’ll be headed in the opposite direction).
You can also look back towards Borrego Springs for another nice view of the desert.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive to Palm Canyon Trailhead, then the first half of the drive south through Anza Borrego State Park: