Anza Borrego State Park, CA

Text and Photos by Megan Barrett

When most people think about San Diego, what comes to mind is an array of laid-back towns dotted along the beautiful coastline. I should know, I’ve been lucky to inhabit a few of those towns for the past four years. What people don’t know is that an hour and a bit east of the Pacific coast is a different side of San Diego. Anza Borrego is the largest state park in all of California, yet most people don’t seem to know it’s there! It encompasses 600,000 acres of arid land that support beautiful desert flora and the parks namesake, the Borrego bighorn sheep.

downloadWhen my friends and I are in the mood for something different than weekends at the beach, Anza is the perfect weekend escape. We camp, hike, explore the mud and wind caves and cook some really, really good camp food. Just before the Spring equinox, and just after California finally got some much needed rain, the park experienced one the most beautiful wildflower blooms it’s seen in years. The dry land exploded with yellow and purple and white flowers. The flowers usually stick around for a few weeks, before they surrender to the heat and the army of caterpillars taking advantage of the abundance of food.

Some things to know about the park:

You can camp anywhere! This is awesome, especially if you’re looking to get away, find a corner a ways away from the main roads and you can have acres of desert all to yourself.

There is a main highway that runs through the park, but a lot of the best parts to explore are off sandy or muddy roads, 4 wheel drive is mandatory when you get off the beaten paths, and is recommended even for some of the most traveled roads.

As with any desert, when Spring and Summer roll around, the park heats up to well over 100 degrees. Late fall, winter and early spring are some of the best times to visit. If you can make it there after a rain, it’s pretty incredible to see the desert cloaked in green.

Last but not least, if you head out of the park towards Julian, which is along one of the two main roads out, be sure to stop for some pie. Julian is famous for their apples, it’s a great small town, and there’s nothing better than warm apple pie for breakfast!

Photos (C) 2015 Megan Barrett

Megan is an adventurous woman with the itch to travel. The photos she provided are all analogue and give an intimate look at the details of the beautiful desert that is Anza Borrego. Follow her on instagram to keep up with her life and check out her website to see where she’s come from and where she is going.