For a detailed history of the Desert Lodge/La Casa del Zorro click
The permanently protected state park
surrounding the Borrego Valley has seen little change
since it was first discovered by the Spaniards in the
1700's when Juan Bautista de Anza found one of the first
land routes from Mexico to California. In 1776, Anza led
a group of soldiers, colonists, horses, cattle and mules
on an epic 1,600-mile march from Culiacan, Mexico,
through the Borrego Valley, eventually founding the
Pueblo of San Francisco.
"Borego" first appeared on a county map in 1883 as a
misspelling of the Spanish word "borrego" which means "a
yearling lamb." More likely, "Borrego Springs" was so
named because of the sheepherders who watered their
flocks at the local spring in the late 1800's.
In 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza, the son
and grandson of Spanish frontier captains, discovered one of the first
land routes to California through the Borrego Valley. Returning in
1776, Anza led a group of soldiers, colonists, horses, cattle and mules,
on an epic march of American history 1,600 miles from Culiacan, Mexico,
up through Borrego Valley, eventually founding the Pueblo of San
Francisco. Along the way was the first birth in California of a child
not of American Indian descent. The event took place in what is now the
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and is commemorated with the First Child
During World War II, Borrego bustled
with military activity as Gen. George Patton’s tanks raced across its
deserts while Navy planes practiced their dive-bombing runs using
targets set up in washes. The military presence brought the community
its first paved road and electrical lines. At the war’s conclusion,
developers subdivided the area in hopes of developing a resort
community. Today the permanent population of Borrego Springs is about
Fages, of the Presidio in San Diego, was probably the first non-Indian
to traverse the region, when he visited in pursuit of deserters.
Bautista de Anza, the son and grandson of Spanish frontier captains,
discovers one of the first land routes to California through the Borrego
leads 240 soldiers and colonists, including 115 children, and about
1,000 horses, cattle and mules, on an epic march of American history
1,600 miles from Culiacan, Mexico, up through Borrego Valley, eventually
founding the Pueblo of San Francisco.
native palm tree is first noted in a written diary by Fages.
Jackson party of American trappers, including J.T. Warner of Warner
Ranch fame, enters California via the Borrego region.
Carson and an escort of 15 men pass through the area guiding Gen.
Stephen Watts Kearny on to what would become the battle of San Pascual.
is discovered in California and there is heavy migration from Baja,
California and Sonora, Mexico via the Borrego region.
Benjamin Hayes passes through area as he enters California to become
state's first jurist.
Butterfield Overland Mail passes through Borrego on first overland mail
delivery between St. Louis and San Francisco. The 2,812 mile trip takes
23 days, 23 hours, and 30 minutes.
is discovered and the mining towns of Julian and Banner are born to the
west of Borrego Valley.
homesteading in Borrego Valley starts.
Salton Sea forms.
Borrego has active Chamber of Commerce and the common acceptance of the
“Borrego” takes over from “Borego.”
Jollan Guy L. Fleming and Clinton Abbott of San Diego submit first plans
for Anza Borrego Desert State Park. “Beggars of Life,” a silent movie
starring Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks is filmed.
Crickmer, manager of the Del Mar Hotel, first visits Borrego Valley.
of the first structures in Borrego Valley, a simple adobe house is built
at Burks Ranch. Named The Desert Lodge, it serves Thanksgiving turkey
dinner to 17 guests. The population of Borrego Springs zooms to 25
people. In the heart of the Mission Revival period, the first structure
in the Borrego Valley was built by Dana Burks, an early developer of
Palm Springs. The simple adobe house was originally named the Desert
additional adobe units are built, styled after the main building.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Borrego comes alive with Army and
Young Lions,” starring Marlon Brando, Dean Martin and Montgomery Clift,
Copley Press (owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, the
Borrego Sun, Today's Local News and Enlace), purchased the
Desert Lodge and officially changed the name to La Casa del Zorro Desert
Resort. "El Zorro," or "the fox" in Spanish, was the nickname of James
Copley's mistress who made her home in this desert retreat. La Casa del
Zorro quickly became a coveted desert oasis and a romantic escape.
For a detailed history of the Casa del Zorro click
Modernization of the older hotel units begins, and the new 18-sided pool
Fox Den lounge is expanded to its present spacious size.
Additional remodeling is done to the lounge, offices and kitchen.
convention facilities and audio-visual services for meetings hosting
from 2 to 250 are completed.
deluxe suites offering both a family pool/spa and general use pool/spa
hard-surface, illuminated tennis courts and full-service pro shop are
“Bugsy,” starring Warren Beatty, is filmed.
state-of-the-art Zorro Conference Center is completed.
aquatics center is built at La Casa del Zorro.
Renovation is completed on the casitas, enhancing settings that already
placed La Casa del Zorro among the world’s fine boutique resorts by
creating homes that are virtual "resorts within a resort,"
indistinguishable from fine, upscale residences.
legendary "X-Files" began its eighth season with two segments set in the
Renovation is completed on La Casa del Zorro’s Deluxe Rooms, which a Los
Angeles Times travel writer had already called “attractive as any hotel
room I’ve ever stayed in.”
Four-wheel-drive, eco-tourism outings are introduced by La Casa del
Zorro. These tours of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are designed by
the resort and sanctioned by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Astronomy programs introduced at La
Casa del Zorro, led by noted astronomy author and sky photographer,
Dennis Mammana. Because artificial light is at a minimum in the
Anza-Borrego Desert, Mammana considers it to be one of the best sites in
the world for astronomy.
Custom in-restaurant wine room is opened. It was designed and hand built
to enhance an already heralded dining experience and houses an
increasingly impressive wine collection. An elegant, new veranda opens off the
dining room and overlooks the rose garden. It features an innovative
climate control misting system, fireplace for winter nights and
Eco-tourism outings are expanded at La Casa del Zorro to include guided,
custom-tailored hikes of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The new Anza-Borrego Archery Academy
opened at La Casa del Zorro, where National Archery Association
certified instructors provide lessons in this sport of the original
Croquet center opens at La Casa del Zorro. With roots in Ireland of the
1830s, this distant cousin of golf was adopted by England’s aristocracy
in the 1850s and likely will become a desert favorite. Jogging track opens at La Casa del
Zorro featuring desert and mountain vistas, including the Vallecito, San
Ysidro and the Santa Rosa ranges. The later, at nearly 9,000 feet, is
the tallest range.
2007: GH Capital,
LLC purchased La Casa del Zorro and in the summer of 2008 the resort was
completely remodeled and reborn as Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa—an
Ranch Resort Closed and put on the market for sale.
2013: La Casa del
Zorro is re-born !! First public event held at the hotel since
closure - Borrego Springs Chamber & Visitors Bureau Annual Meeting,
March 23, 2013. Approx 200 in attendance.