Encompassing more than 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® is the largest state park in California, the largest desert state park in the United States, and is a UNESCO conservation designated World Biosphere Reserve.

With over 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas (comprising 2/3 of the park) and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails visitors are provided an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the Colorado Desert. [See South Coyote Canyon Trail] The park name is derived from a combination of the name of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word "borrego," referring to bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as  and four species of rattlesnake.   Within the park boundaries there is located a unique man-made structure - the world's largest wooden trestle.  Also within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are Cultural Preserves and Natural Preserves consisting of features unique to this region.

"On August 1, 1974, Secretary of the Interior Rogers C. B. Morton approved Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for inclusion in the National Registry of Natural Landmarks. Sites in the Registry possess exceptional value as illustrations of our nation's natural heritage. Anza-Borrego, the largest Desert State Park in the nation, contains some of the best examples of the desert biotic communities in the Colorado Desert." - from the plaque erected at the Visitor Center.

Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® is located on the eastern side of San Diego County, with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from San Diego, Riverside, and Palm Springs.

Many visitors approach from the east or west via Highways S22 and California Scenic Highway 78. From the coast, these highways descend from the heights of the Peninsular range of mountains with spectacular views of the great bowl of the Colorado Desert.

Highway S2 enters the park from the south off of Interstate 8.

Detailed driving instructions  |  Activities & Programs  |  Volunteer Opportunities

Visitation: Averages 600,000 people per year.

Visitor Center: 760-767-4205  |  Park Headquarters: 760-767-5311

Seasons, Climate & Recommended Clothing: Seasonal temperatures can be extreme.  Layered clothing is always advised. Carry plenty of water in your vehicle and while hiking.

Mission, Vision and Purpose of ABDSP

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Plants & Wildflowers: Wildflowers usually begin blooming in January and reach their peak in March. The success of each year's wildflower bloom is dependent on a variety of factors, including rainfall, temperature and winds. Click here for detailed plant trail guides in the park.

  • Wildflower Hotline 760-767-4684.

Wi-Fi Service: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offers AT&T Wi-Fi Service!  This service enables park visitors with wireless enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access the Internet. You can access this service if you are within a 150 foot range base of the Ranger's Office.  For more information about this service please see January 19, 2005, News Release.

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There are three developed campgrounds in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park®:  Borrego Palm Canyon and Tamarisk Grove & Horse Camp (an equestrian camp located at the mouth of Coyote Canyon).

or call 800-444-7275

There is also a small campground at Bow Willow. 

Ask park staff about the rules for backcountry camping.

Click here for more information about our campgrounds.


Use extreme CAUTION

Unless visitors know the park very well, or carry detailed maps, it is wise NOT to venture too far from vehicles or from marked highways or roads. Getting lost is one of the easiest things to do in the desert.  It is always wise to ask a ranger or a park volunteer about desert hazards and to make sure someone else knows where you are going.   

More on Desert Safety - click here

Photo courtesy of Patrick McArron

Coyote Ridge with Toro Peak in the background

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Desert Safety

  • Know your physical limitations in the heat and rugged desert terrain. Summer temperatures can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit / 52 Celsius!
  • Always carry plenty of water ... and drink it!  It does you no good in your canteen. One gallon minimum per person per day is recommended.
  • Wear sturdy footwear and a hat, and use sun protection.
  • Do not hike alone — use the buddy system.
  • Tell someone of your trip plans.
  • Use maps. Detailed topographic maps of the entire Park are available at the Visitor Center.
  • Start out with a well-maintained vehicle. Carry extra water, shovel, tools, flares and blankets. Check the road condition board at the Visitor Center before you start out.
  • If your vehicle breaks down, stay with it!  It is much easier to find a vehicle than a wandering person.
  • Should you find yourself in trouble, do not panic. If you have followed the above precautions, help will soon be on the way.
  • Additional hiking tips - click here