24 Best Things to Do in Borrego Springs, CA
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Borrego Springs is an unincorporated village and census-designated place within California's San Diego County, entirely surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which showcases beautiful mountain and desert habitats. The village has been recognized internationally for its distinction as an International Dark Sky settlement, preventing nighttime lighting to protect night sky views. It is noted for its Pueblo-style and ranch-style architecture and serves as a major center for astronomy throughout the Southern California region. Four public golf courses are also offered throughout the village, along with a wide variety of outdoor activities and tourism companies related to the state park facility.

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» Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is California's largest state park, spanning more than 600,000 acres throughout the Borrego Springs region. The park stretches 25 miles by 50 miles and is framed by the Bucksnort, Santa Rosa, Jacumba, Vallecito, Pinyon, and Borrego mountain ranges and natural features such as the Salton Trough and Carrizo Badlands. A park visitor center showcases exhibits on the area's natural and cultural history, showcasing a full-sized Aiolornis incredibilis model. More than 500 miles of visitor access roads are offered throughout the park, including California Route 78 and County Routes S1, S2, S3, and S22. Biking and 4x4 vehicle routes are also offered, along with hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Galleta Meadows

Galleta Meadows
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Galleta Meadows is a roadside attraction along the Southern California S-3 highway, crafted by artist and welder Ricardo Breceda, known as the welder of Perris, California's "Jurassic Park" exhibit. More than 130 metal sculptures are showcased along the highway within the city of Borrego Springs, commissioned by the former owner of the Galleta Meadows Estates. Sculptures include giant elephants, raptors, dinosaurs, mammoths, and saber-toothed tigers, which are positioned at sites along Borrego Springs and Henderson Canyon Roads. Printed maps of the sculpture area are offered at the Borrego Springs Library, the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, and the Anza-Borrego Foundation.

Borrego Springs Road, Borrego Springs, California, 92004

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» Fonts Point

Fonts Point
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Fonts Point is a remote location within the Borrego Badlands, offering one of the most unparalleled overlook vistas in all of Southern California. The overlook is named for Father Pedro Font, the official chaplain and diarist for the 1775 de Anza expeditions throughout the region, which resulted in the choosing of the site for the Mission San Francisco de Asis. It can only be accessed via a four-mile loose sand road that is typically only amenable to four-wheel-drive and off-roading vehicles. Half-day excursions to the point are offered by a number of local touring companies. Visitors attempting the drive on their own should exercise extreme caution, as roads can be very difficult and automobile services are scarce in the area.

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» Slot Canyon

Slot Canyon
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Slot Canyon, also nicknamed The Slot, is a 0.8-mile hike within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that is one of the park's most beloved visitor attractions, offering the opportunity to pass through a narrow siltstone canyon with a gravity-defying passage. The hike commences from a trailhead parking lot, descending less than 100 feet into the ravine below. A variety of beautiful natural wonders are showcased along the hike, including spectacular cliffs and a unique scepter-shaped rock slab that bridges a gap in the canyon. The trailhead is accessible from Christmas Circle and Borrego Springs Road and also provides access to a trail ascending to the summit of West Butte at an elevation of 1,207 feet.

Borrego Mountain Wash, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004

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» Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail
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Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail is a three-mile round-trip hike through a native palm oasis within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The hike lasts approximately two hours round-trip and traverses a self-guided nature trail that passes native populations of beavertail and cholla cacti, desert lavender bushes, ocotillo plants, catclaw, and honey mesquite. The region is also home to populations of desert animals such as Peninsular bighorn sheep, pack rats, iguanas, California quail, and Costa's hummingbirds, along with "painted" rocks that are covered in microscopic bacteria colonies. At the end of the hike, visitors reach the natural oasis, which is surrounded by California fan palm trees and features stones placed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Borrego Night Sky Tours

Borrego Night Sky Tours
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Borrego Night Sky Tours offer guided night sky excursions led by acclaimed astronomer Dennis Mammana, who has worked as a planetarium director and producer at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the Strasenburgh Planetarium. Mammana is a prominent author of astronomy books and manages the Stargazers syndicated astronomy newspaper column, one of only six members of the prestigious international The World At Night society. Today, he guides night sky tours throughout California's only International Dark Sky Community, with tours available throughout the year on select dates depending on astronomical conditions. Evening observation programs offer opportunities to use telescopes to observe the night sky, with more personal instructor interaction than standard observatory public star parties.

Christmas Cir, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-3656

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» Borrego Art Institute

Borrego Art Institute
© Borrego Art Institute

Borrego Art Institute is a contemporary art institute and nonprofit organization that opened to the public in 2005 as a partnership between businessman Dennis Nourse and Borrego Springs artist Nita Wipper. The institute is located within a historic retail building designed in 1949 by Kesling Modern Structures that was reconstructed and renovated for the institute's use in 2005. Rotating art shows are hosted at the institute, featuring the works of top regional artists, including an annual summer show that serves as a mixed media platform for the city's top artists. A variety of adult and child art workshops are also offered by the institute at its pottery studio and ArtFarm Gardens. Visitors may enjoy the institute's Kesling's Kitchen restaurant, a quick-casual restaurant serving Neapolitan-style flatbread pizzas and sandwiches cooked in a Mugnaini wood-fired oven.

665 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-5152

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» Hellhole Canyon Trail

Hellhole Canyon Trail
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Hellhole Canyon Trail is a 5.5-mile round-trip hike within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, offering opportunities to see its striking eponymous canyon and the seasonal 20-foot Maidenhair Falls. The canyon trailhead is located just south of the park's visitor center against the backdrop of the San Ysidro Mountains. Throughout the hike, visitors gain an elevation of more than 1,000 feet, merging with the California Riding and Hiking Trail at the quarter-mile mark. Hikers pass ocotillo and creosote bushes throughout the route, with the trail becoming less defined and more difficult as hikers reach its peak. During the spring months or after rains, the waterfall rushes spectacularly. Visitors may enter the cascade's knee-deep tributary waters with caution for showers from the waterfall.

Montezuma Valley Road (Route S22), Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004

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» Coyote Canyon

Coyote Canyon
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Coyote Canyon is a favorite point within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, accessible from Christmas Circle and Southern California Route S-22. The 9.6-mile trail is divided into two sections at Upper and Lower Coyote Canyon, which are accessible from a trailhead at the Terwilliger Valley settlement. Riparian areas and peninsular bighorn sheep habitats are showcased along the upper portion of the trail, which is a popular spot for horseback riders, mountain bikers, and hikers. Several sections of the trail have been permanently closed to motor vehicles since the 1980s, including the gap between the Upper and Lower portions of the trail. Spectacular views of the Santa Rosa and San Ysidro Mountains are offered from the deep canyon trail, which reaches peak elevations of 4,200 feet.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Rams Hill Golf Club

Rams Hill Golf Club
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Rams Hill Golf Club was originally designed by legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio, operating for several decades before it closed due to the 2009 financial crisis in the United States. For half a decade, the course laid vacant and had begun to be reclaimed by the desert, but in 2014, it was extensively renovated and reopened to the public as a modern, sustainable facility powered by a 3.5-acre solar farm and bio-retention basins. The new course has won a number of international golf awards, including top 25 course rankings from Golf Advisor and TripAdvisor. Visitors can enjoy the course's 18 majestic holes, which traverse beautiful desert regions that are home to red tail hawks, frogs, and coyotes. Stay and play packages are offered at the course's House on the Hill rental home, which sleeps up to eight guests per night. The course is also home to the elegant fine dining establishment Rams Hill Restaurant, which offers farm-to-table fare prepared by executive chef Jeremy Manley.

1881 Rams Hill Rd, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-3500

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» Desert Gardens

Desert Gardens
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Desert Gardens are a beautiful span of wildflower ridges located within the canyons of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located near Coyote Canyon. The ridges are watered by runoff from Coyote Creek and are a popular tourist attraction and photo opportunity within the park, showcasing a wide variety of wildflower blossoms during the blooming season, including an annual "superbloom" of ocotillos and cacti in the region. Since 1971, the gardens have been protected by the Anza-Borrego Committee of the Desert Protective Council, who acquired the land from private owners for the purposes of preservation and conservation. Today, the canyon and gardens are easily accessible for visitors from the Alcoholic Pass Trail, which also offers spectacular views from atop the Coyote Mountain ridges.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Ghost Mountain

Ghost Mountain
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Ghost Mountain is a mountain located within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that is best known as the former homestead site of author and artist Marshal South, who lived in the California wilderness for two decades following the Great Depression. The trailhead is accessible via a marked dirt road off of Southern California Route S-2, able to be traversed on foot throughout its out-and-back route. Visitors should note that the hike is extremely difficult at points and exercise caution for footing on its loose, gravelly route. At the apex of the hike, the ruins of the South estate are visible, including a stone hearth, a cistern, and the remains of door and window frames.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» The Santa Rosa Mountains

The Santa Rosa Mountains
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The Santa Rosa Mountains are a 30-mile mountain range that spans the western end of the Coachella Valley, extending through the communities of San Diego, Riverside, and Borrego Springs. The range is connected to the San Jacinto Mountains along its northern end at its junction with California State Route 74. Its highest peak, Toro Peak, reaches a maximum elevation of 8.716 feet, located approximately 20 miles from the city border of Palm Springs within the Upper Coyote Canyon portion of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The mountains are located within the Colorado Desert at their lower elevations, with chaparral and woodland habitats populating its higher-elevation regions. Much of their northern area is protected as part of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, administered by the United States Forest Service, which offers visitor centers and trailheads throughout the range.

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» Yaqui Well

Yaqui Well
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Yaqui Well is a natural seep that is accessible via a 1.64-mile round-trip hike near San Felipe Wash and the San Felipe Fault. The well has been used by indigenous populations and pioneer prospectors alike for centuries, with many native legends and modern ghost tales associated with the landmark. Today, it serves as a birding hotspot along the California coast, home to more than 80 species of birds throughout its broader region, including the California quail, Costa's hummingbird, cactus wren, black-throated sparrow, and roadrunner. The trail commences near the Tamarisk Grove Campground, following along a rocky ridge that is home to native plants such as jojoba, lavender, brittlebush, and a variety of cacti species.

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» Ocotillo Flat

Ocotillo Flat
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Ocotillo Flat is a popular hiking route within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's Coyote Canyon area, accessible via DiGiorgio Road and the Coyote Canyon Jeep Trail. The area is home to large habitats of native wildflowers blooming late in the season, including the region's famed ocotillo plant, which the region takes its name from. It is a popular riding site for riders at the nearby Vern Whitaker Horse Camp, which offers equestrian camping opportunities and day rides led by instructors. The region is also a popular spot for archaeological exploration, home to evidence of indigenous population of the area prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Pegleg Smith Monument

Pegleg Smith Monument
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Pegleg Smith Monument is a unique monument to notorious Wild West figure Thomas "Pegleg" Smith, a fur trapper, gold prospector, indigenous slaver and horse thief in the American West in the early 19th century. Smith gained his nickname after losing his leg during an 1827 fur trapping expedition, which led him to California, where he began selling indigenous children as slaves to Mexican haciendas. Following the California Gold Rush of 1849, Smith began a notorious horse thieving career, spreading legend of a gold jackpot that he had supposedly won and lost. Today, the monument asks visitors to throw stones at a large pile near the base of the monument, which supposedly brings visitors good luck. The site is also the home of the annual Pegleg Smith Liars Contest, which encourages visitors to engage in good-natured charlatanism.

Peg Leg Road, Borrego Springs, California, 92004

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» California Overland Desert Excursions

California Overland Desert Excursions
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California Overland Desert Excursions is one of Anza Borrego Desert State Park's premiere tourism companies, licensed as a passenger carrier company by the California Public Utilities Commission and donating seven percent of its sales back to the state park system. The company has been featured in international publications such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Diego Union Tribune, offering a variety of public and private tours of the state park year-round, weather-permitting. Group tours are offered for groups of six to 17 participants, with tour itineraries focused around the region's unique terrain areas. Special nighttime tours offer opportunities to see the region's celestial wonders on clear nights. Private tours are also available, with customizable itineraries and travel aboard top luxury off-roading vehicles.

1233 Palm Canyon Drive Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-1232

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» Sandstone Canyon

Sandstone Canyon
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Sandstone Canyon is a moderately difficult off-roading route within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, offering opportunities for intermediate-level four-wheeling along a 300-foot canyon stretch. The overland trail provides off-roading areas for four-by-four vehicles, including several rock slides that may be traversed by vehicle. The first portion of the trail allows for easier visitor stretches with ample turnaround space for visitors unable to complete the entire trail. Spectacular cliff formation views are offered throughout the trail, with dispersed camping permitted at several sites throughout the canyon. Visitors should note that the trail features deep uphill mud sections and steep grades and that fires are not permitted at campsites within the canyon.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Elephant Trees Trail

Elephant Trees Trail
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Elephant Trees Trail is a trail within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that showcases the rare bursera microphylla plant, commonly known as the elephant tree. The tree is named for its swollen trunk and was at one time thought to be the only of its kind in the United States. Today, several stands of elephant trees have been found throughout Baja California and Arizona's Gila Range at sites such as the Santa Rosa Mountains, Bisnaga Alta Wash, and In-Ko-Pah Gorge. An interpretive trail offers views of the iconic trees from a trailhead that embarks from Split Mountain Road and traverses approximately 1.1 miles. 13 interpretive displays are offered along the route, explaining the tree's biological and cultural significance.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Borrego Springs Farmers Market

Borrego Springs Farmers Market
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Borrego Springs Farmers Market is the only public urban farmer's market in the Borrego Springs region, hosted every Friday morning between November and April from 8:00am to 12:00pm at the city's Christmas Circle Park. The market offers a wide variety of locally-grown produce, including rare finds such as Christmas tree broccoli, fuerte avocados, and cherimoyas. Vendors also sell locally-produced bread, flowers, and home and pantry products, including famous homemade fudge vendors. A variety of artists also sell arts and crafts products. Picnic tables, drinking fountains, and public restrooms are offered at the park, which is conveniently located near the businesses of downtown Borrego Springs.

700 Christmas CirBorrego Springs, CA 92004

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» Whale Peak

Whale Peak
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Whale Peak is one of the most highly-visited tourist attractions within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, reaching a maximum elevation of 5,335 feet. A visitor hike at the mountain is offered from a trailhead at Pinyon Mountain Road, which is best traversed via four-wheel-drive vehicle. The official portion of the trail spans a length of 4.5 miles, though many vehicles may need to park further back along the access road, bringing the entire walk up to as many as nine miles. Hikers ascend a wash to a grassy field area and slope which offers access to several elevation hikes before reaching the peak's summit. Atop the peak, pinyon pines and California juniper are visible, along with seasonal accumulations of some of the region's only snowfall.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain
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Granite Mountain is a popular attraction at the western border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located next to the mountainous Cleveland National Forest. The mountain rises to an elevation of 2,600 feet above Blair Valley and is accessible via several popular hiking routes, including a trailhead that embarks from Highway S2. The predominantly Class 1 route reaches Class 2 difficulty at several points along the route due to uncleared portions. Along the hike, visitors can view a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including mountain lions, deer, and rattlesnakes that call the region home.

200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-4205

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» The Rowe Gallery

The Rowe Gallery
© The Rowe Gallery

The Rowe Gallery is a contemporary art gallery and store that features the works of Borrego Springs artist Lori Rowe. As a painter, Rowe takes her inspiration from modern impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Iris Scott, and Erin Hanson, utilizing bold, thick brushstrokes and colorful patterns to create exuberant, lively imagery. Her work has been honored internationally at art shows such as the Llano Estacado Art Association's Fall Open Art Show and has received accolades for its inclusion in animal charity publications, including five stints as a featured artist for Paws for Charity. Commissions of Rowe's work are featured at locations from Texas to Dubai. Many of the artist's original works are on display at the gallery, with a number of pieces available for purchase.

587 Palm Canyon Dr #108, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 302-521-4175

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» Carlee's Place

Carlee's Place
© Carlee's Place

Carlee's Place has been a local Borrego Springs institution for more than two decades, transferred to the care of owners Polly and Andy Macuga in 2010. The popular roadhouse has been featured in international publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the San Diego Tribune, known for its classic burgers and bar bites. All menu items are made to order from scratch, cooked using the freshest-possible ingredients. A wide variety of hot and cold sandwiches are served daily, along with deluxe and customizable pizzas, bar-style appetizers, and a variety of land and sea entrees. Creative martinis and frozen margaritas are also available, along with a variety of premium wines, beers, and liquors.

660 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, Phone: 760-767-3262

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25 Best Things to Do in Borrego Springs, California