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Visiting the Park


Photo: Exterior view of the Visitor Center and grounds at Anza-Borrego Desert State ParkThe Visitor Center
The Visitor Center has some very informative exhibits, plus the award-winning 15-minute film, A Year in the Desert.

Desert Garden
A desert garden just outside the Visitor Center building provides a quick look at some of the vegetation typical of the 600,000-acre park, with the species identified. The desert garden includes a pupfish pond. Pupfish evolved from conditions during the Ice Age to today's precarious existence of fish in the desert. They are called Salton Sea pupfish, though none are left in the Sea. These pupfish can thrive in fresh water or water nearly as salty as the ocean, and they can survive temperatures from near freezing to as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets too warm or too cold or nearly dries up, these fish burrow in the mud at the bottom of the pool. There's another pupfish pond near the Palm Canyon Trailhead in Borrego Palm Canyon Campground.

Wildflowers
There are more wonders in this desert than anyone could see in a lifetime, including wildflowers, which usually start blooming in force in late February or early March. Varieties of cactus bloom at all elevations but at different times, and for wildflower buffs they are the real prize. They tend to be "specimen" blossoms in colors ranging from red to yellow, and green. Other plants, such as the red chuparosa and the yellow brittlebush, show themselves as a mass of tiny flowers covering the surface of a shrub, or even a field of shrubs, or, in a good year, a broad expanse of pink sand verbena. It is often impossible to predict how desert plants will respond to the timing and amounts of rainfall and the fluctuations of temperature.

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail Association LogoThe Pacific Crest Trail is the jewel in the crown of America’s scenic trails, spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through three western states. The trail passes through five California State Parks: Castle Crags and McArthur-Burney Falls in Northern California; and Silverwood Lake, Anza Borrego Desert and Mt San Jacinto in Southern California. The Pacific Crest Trail Association is an excellent source of information for anyone planning a trip on the PCT. Location-DirectionsTurn north (left) off 78 onto Highway S3, drive about 6 miles, and turn left onto Borrego Springs Road (Highway S3). Another 5 miles or so will take you to Christmas Circle in the town of Borrego Springs. Drive counterclockwise around the circle and turn off at Palm Canyon Drive west. Drive about 3 miles and follow the signs to the Visitor Center. Look for the American Flag; the Visitor Center is built into a hill, so it is mostly underground.