The Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California stretching from the Mexican border north some 60 miles or so more north towards Palm Springs. We went on a day trip and saw only one piece of the entire park hiking a single trail. Nevertheless, we did get a sense of the park despite our short stay.
We left Palm Springs fairly early. The drive to the park is straight down the 10 interstate until you reach Indio at which point you branch onto the 86 and head south. When you arrive at the town of Salton City, you take the S22 (also known as the Borrego Salton Sea Way) west. The road is not in fantastic shape but it gets you to the park:
Along the way you will see a large area of the land being used by off-road vehicles. There was a fairly visible presence of both off-road ATV type vehicles and camping vehicles from cars with small trailers to monster RVs.
Like other desert environments in the US southwest, the Colorado Desert can be characterized by its vegetation. The Sonoran Desert is known for its giant Saguaro cactuses; the Mohave Desert for its Joshua Trees. The Colorado Desert, sometimes considered part of the Sonoran Desert, has creosote bushes, the ocotillo – not a cactus but a deciduous desert plant – and many other plant varieties. The Western Fan Palm, the tree found at oases throughout the region and the only native palm tree in North America, is typically found in a Colorado Desert environment.
The 2004 Flood
In September of 2004 a rainstorm dropped a large amount of rain on the area around the Palm Canyon. The resulting flash flood ripped apart the oasis leaving only a quarter of the trees standing. The remainder were scattered around, several being washed downstream by the fast flowing water. A good account of this event and the effects on the canyon is listed in the references at the bottom of this post.
We started back down the trail, eventually taking a different fork to follow a different trail back to the parking lot.
And that, as they say, is a wrap – to the hike at least. We didn’t see many birds and I wasn’t able to get much on camera. There was a Shrike and a high-up hawk and a few sparrows.
We stopped in Borrego Springs for lunch and then headed back on highway 78 which runs south of the S22 towards the south end of the Salton Sea. We were off to check out the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge though I’ll leave the details of that for another post.
References, and Further Reading
The article: Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail has extensive information on the Palm Canyon Trail, its vegetation and the September 2004 flood.