Anza-Borrego State Park

A cool experience with 6 to 10 mile hikes
Driving to and sleeping at a campground
Places we've visited and fallen in love with

Catching a desert dragon and barren badlands in Anza-Borrego State Park

Catching a desert dragon and barren badlands in Anza-Borrego State Park

Catching a desert dragon and barren badlands in Anza-Borrego State Park

Catching a desert dragon and barren badlands in Anza-Borrego State Park

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Last updated
May 24, 2024

Trip · 3-day car camping trip

For · Friends and first-time campers

Vibe · Chill and easy

Reservations · Yes, reserve a site at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground

Drive · 3 hours from LA

Ideal dates · October to April (January to March for wildflowers)

Pets · Welcome at camp and on roads, but not on trails

Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California. It's 600,000+ acres whereas Sequoia National Park is 328,000+ acres. With 12 wilderness areas and 110 miles of hiking trails, Anza-Borrego has numerous places to explore. Secondly, the park is an "International Dark Sky Park," which means it's an incredible place to stargaze. Finally, just outside of the park is Galleta Meadows, a private refuge for 130 towering metal structures created by artist Ricardo Breceda. It's on private property, but you can check out these art sculptures anytime, and you should! Anza-Borrego SP and its surrounding area is an experience like no other.

Official Park Website

Download Park Visitor's Guide

Directions to Campground

Main image credit: Robby McCullough

Stuff to know

  • There's a $10 day use fee for each car, but it's included if you reserve a campsite!
  • The first palm grove in Borrego Palm Canyon is closed due to fire damage. Here's a map of where you can access.
  • Desert temps are sizzling in the summer, but during the winter the average high is in the mid-60s and lows can dip into the mid-40s. Pack layers to stay warm and cozy while camping.
  • Rattlesnakes call the desert home. You'll likely avoid them when you're hiking on the trail, but watch your step whenever you go off-trail and stay alert!
Check the weather
Borrego Palm Canyon Campground

Where to camp

Borrego Palm Canyon Campground

Each campsite comes with a:

  • Picnic table
  • Fire ring
  • Space for up to 8 people
  • One car and one trailer (each additional vehicle is $10)
  • Vault and flush toilets
  • Drinking water
  • Hot showers

Anza Borrego has four developed campgrounds: Tamarisk Grove, Vern Whitaker Horse Camp, Bow Willow, and Borrego Palm Canyon, along with eight "primitive' campgrounds that don't have running water. Borrego Palm Canyon is the largest campground with 122 reservable sites and a bunch of amenities. You can buy firewood, take hot showers, and sit underneath shade ramadas throughout the campground. It's a perfect spot for first-time campers and families who want to try out desert camping.

Check-in: After 12 PM · Check-out: 12 PM

Quiet hours: 10 PM to 6 AM

Nightly Fee: $25

View Campground Map

Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
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Itinerary

Day 1

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Credit: Derek Thomson

Leave LA and swing by Sprouts Farmers Market for groceries

  • Located at 32413 Temecula Parkway, Suite 300, in Temecula
  • Open from 7 AM to 10 PM everyday
  • It's an hour drive away from camp
  • Last Pit Stop: X L Co - 525 Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs
  • Before you reach camp, stop by Montezuma Valley Road Lookout to take in desert vistas.

Check-in and set up camp at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground

  • Buy a bundle (or two) of firewood from the camp host. Always try to buy firewood locally!  
  • Set up your tent and familiarize yourself with the campground

Scramble up to Panorama Overlook to watch the sunset

  • This is a 1.6 mile round trip hike with 641 feet of elevation
  • You can walk to the trailhead from camp. Give yourself at least 45 minutes to scramble up there before sunset, and bring your headlamp! There are loose rocks so watch your step.

Return to camp to cook dinner

Enjoy the campfire, s’mores and stargazing

  • Temperatures can get down to the low-40s in Anza-Borrego State Park pack layers and cozy around the campfire to stay warm.
The park is named after 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, the Spanish word for sheep.

Day 2

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Credit: Zach Dowdy

Have breakfast and prep for your day

  • If you’re looking for a fun and nostalgic breakfast, try cinnamon roll ups over the fire or camp stove.

Visit Galleta Meadows for an early morning adventure

  • Walk through these giant, Jurrasic art sculptures. Take your best IG photo and tag @underthesunfoundation, the official steward of Galleta Meadows.

Return to camp and have a picnic lunch

  • Nosh on your favorite snacks and chill after this morning’s adventure

Afternoon hike through The Slot Trailhead

  • It's about a 25-minute drive from camp to The Slot. It's an unmarked trail so use these GPS coordinates 33.18213, -116.21417.
  • This hike is a 2.3 mile loop with 300 feet of elevation gain. It takes you through winding, narrow slot canyons, which if you haven't experienced before is worth checking out!
  • It's a dirt/sand road to the trailhead. It's doable in most AWD cars but drive cautiously and be mindful of the weather

Return to camp for dinner, dessert, and campfire stories

  • Enjoy your last night at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!
Thousands of years ago, the Cahuilla, Cupeño and Kumeyaay Native American tribes lived in the region

Day 3

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Credit: Patrick Mayor

Cook up brekkie, pack up and check-out by noon

  • Clean up around camp and throw away any random pieces of litter

Head home!

Borrego Springs is a major stopover for Swainson's Hawks migrating from Argentina to their breeding grounds north of the town. Cool, huh?
June 1, 2024

Bewilder at LAist Super-Fun Saturday

Make wildflower seed bombs with Bezzi the Yeti at LAist's Super Fun Saturday

Event in 2 days

Bewilder Basecamp: Spooky Wonders

Join Bezzi the Yeti on her first spooky camping adventure!

Shop curated gear

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Bezzi's Pick
$399.95

NEMO 4-person Aurora Highrise

This colorful tent has plenty of standing room, is easy to set up, and pack out!

Bezzi's Pick
$249.95

NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair

Lean back, and we mean all the way back, in this comfy camp chair. You'll never want to sit up.

Bezzi's Pick
$159.95

NEMO Moonlander Camp Table

We can confirm that these camp tables withstand hot bevvies and rock collections.

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Meal and snack ideas

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Breakfast

Food For The Sole Blueberry Banana Crunch

Gluten Free • Vegan

Bezzi's Pick
Breakfast

Packit Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs with Sausage

Bezzi's Pick
Dessert

Campfire cinnamon roll ups

Vegetarian

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Snack

Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries

Vegetarian

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Angie's Boom Chicka Pop

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Lunch

Summer rolls with almond butter satay

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Dinner

Dan dan noodles

Gluten Free · Vegan

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Lunch

Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Gluten free

Bezzi's Pick
Dinner

Pho ramen

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Dinner

Curry ramen

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Breakfast

Peanut butter cheesecake overnight oats

Vegetarian

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