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U.S.A.: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park | U.S.A. | Americas

[Visited: July 2016]

After leaving Los Angeles in the middle of the night, I manage to drive to the entrance of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park just before the sun rises. It is 6am, and when I leave my comfortable air-conditioned car, a blanket of heavy heat falls over me. I drive on to the turnoff for Font's Point, and although I am not sure the track is doable for a 2WD, I drive down the sandy road. Several times, the car seems to get stuck in the sand, and at one point, I decide to park the car in the middle of a wide section of the road, on a hard surface. From here, it takes me half an hour to walk over trails to what seems like the edge of the world. When I come closer to it, and see the badlands of the desert in the distance, I feel excited; with every step, the landscape below my feet becomes more dramatic, until I reach the very edge, and I yell to the sky. What a stunning view!

Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Early morning view of the badlands at Font's Point

There is a trail along the edge of the cliff, and I follow it a long way for better views of Font's Point in the distance. I consider going down all the way, and as far as I can see, it would be possible to climb up the badlands again straight to Font's Point. But a steeper section of the trail turns out to be tricker than expected, so I hike all the way along the edge of the cliff to Font's Point. Being the highest point, it gives awesome views all around. When the sun disappears behind dusty clouds, I walk back to my car. On the way, I see that the track is indeed impossible for 2WDs. I cautiously drive back to the road, and head to the visitor centre where a kind lady advises me on hikes and drives that will fill the rest of my day. I start by doing the vintage Borrego trail just above Borrego Springs, as there is a chance to spot the famous bighorn sheep after which the park is named - borrego is the Spanish word for the animal. There are warning signs at the start of the trail: it is midsummer, and people apparently die here because they do not carry sufficient water. Indeed, it is hot, and I have regular stops to drink. While the valley seems barren at the beginning, I encounter some vegetation, and at the oasis, some thick fan palm trees with a small pond with water. I search the slopes of the rocky mountains around me in search of the animals, and am sure I can hear one, but no matter how hard I look, I can't spot it.

Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): View of the sand dunes near Font's Point in the early morning

It is now time for an early lunch, and I realize that this is actually low season for Borrego Springs. Most restaurants are closed, and in one of the few open ones, I only see locals. I drive to the south, to hike the Slot. After hiking through a narrow stretch, I climb the mountain for great views of the desert plains below me, and when I descend again, I enter the canyon, and come to the narrow part of it. At some points, I have to squeeze myself through. I climb up with great views of the canyon which now lies below me, and head back to my car. I continue south, drive the track to the trailhead of the Pictograph trail, where a female sheriff pulls up, and asks me how much water I still have - they have had to save 6 people this week who were severely dehydrated. After seeing the boulder with Indian rock paintings, I reach the top of the Smuggler's Canyon where I sit down on a boulder, to drink, and soak in the wide views of the landscape below me. After hiking back to my car, I drive to where I started the day: I drive the sandy track again, park, and hike up to Font's Point again for views over the badlands at sunset. The orange glow over the barren erosion-sculpted landscape is a reward for my effort, and when I drive back to the main road, the night is about to fall. I am tired, but very satisfied, and manage to drink even more on my way back to Los Angeles: I end up drinking more than 10 litres in this one hot summer day in the desert.

Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Deep and narrow Slot canyon seen from above
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Valley above Borrego Springs with dry trail
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Shadow provided by the narrow Slot canyon
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Wide section of canyon of the Slot with track
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): The palm oasis in this valley above Borrego Springs can be seen in the distance
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Early morning sun shining on the badlands near Font's Point
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Palm trees seen from below at an oasis
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Landscape of barren canyons near the Slot
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Age-old Indian pictographs on a boulder in Anza-Borrego
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Hare standing still in the dry landscape of Anza-Borrego
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): Dry vegetation at the Pictograph trail
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): The badlands turning orange at sunset
Picture of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (U.S.A.): nLooking out over Smuggler's Canyon ad beyond from the edge of a dry waterfall

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