Back to Borrego Springs for More Wildflowers!

by Mar 8, 20190 comments


see purple patches in the distance

I have been thinking about the wildflowers in Borrego Springs since my last visit, a couple weeks ago, and decided to do a mid week trip to avoid the crowds (if this was going to be a super bloom year I did not want to miss out).

I got up very early for a 5 am start leaving Encinitas, so that I could shoot in the morning light in the desert. It was worth the effort!

It rained the whole drive over from Encinitas to Borrego Springs, and I was getting nervous that the forecast was wrong about there being sun in the desert. I was in luck and a brief shower when I arrived was the only rain. I loved how the rain up in the mountains made for some dramatic skies in the desert!

I downloaded the PDF maps from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) website. Besides detailed maps, they included descriptions of each site (including which flowers you could find at each location). If you don’t remember to download the maps before you go Christmas Circle has free public wifi and is located right in the center of town (all the major routes come together there).

I went to Devil’s Slide first. This is over at Ocotillo Wells. Be sure to stop at the Discovery Center and get a map. If they are closed they have maps outside the door. The roads out here are for 4wd vehicles and are well marked. I took Quarry Road to Shell Reef Expressway. This takes you right past Devil’s Slide.

The flowers in this area don’t show up until you are close because of the rolling dunes, but once you find them, they appear to go as far as the horizon. It was really windy so I didn’t get to shoot any macro images (one of my favorite ways to shoot flowers)

From Ocotillo Wells I took 78 east towards Tamarisk Campground. Around mile marker 83.5 are some steep hillsides full of Parish’s Poppies. Go slow as you get close or you will miss them and the one pullout to park on this curvy stretch!

After that I took S-3 north past the Tamarisk Campground to S-22 east. I drove past the entrance to Fonts Point and started to see purple patches in the distance on the left. A few weeks ago you didn’t see any color until you got close to mile marker 31. The color continues off and on almost to mile marker 36. There are plenty of pullouts along the way in this stretch to stop and explore. If you’ve got time take a side trip on the dirt road towards the camp ground. There are fields of flowers here as well. The stark contrast of the gray rocks and the colorful flowers is interesting. Bonus — there is a restroom here!

I drove into Coyote Canyon at the end of Di Giorgio Road. This is one of the most accessible locations near town so it is the most crowded. The flowers were much denser than the last trip and the area still looked amazing. At this point I was running out of steam so I headed over to Kesling’s Kitchen for some lunch. The food is always great — I’ve had sandwiches, pizza and salad; and all have been good. If you have time take a walk through the Borrego Art Institute right next door. There is always something interesting to look at here.

This is a great day trip from San Diego if you don’t have time to spend the night. This is the best time of year to visit Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego State Park.

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These resources can help you plan your own trip

I love the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association for their newsletter and programs (lectures, hikes and tours). You can download the latest flower reports hereThere is more to do in Borrego Springs than look at the flowers. Check out the Chamber of Commerce website for more ideas.

Good food always rounds out any adventure. You can’t miss with Kesling’s Kitchen. If they are busy there might be a little wait, but it is worth it! You can check out the menu here. Right next door is the Borrego Art Institute. They change the art on display regularly so there is always something new to see. If you have time it is worth checking out and doesn’t take very long. You can get more information about them here.

Enjoy the journey!

Karin H Wilson

Karin H Wilson

Artist | Designer | Photographer | Traveler | Storyteller

I am Karin and I just love to share a good story — preferably with snacks! I’m particularly interested in capturing the world’s beauty and wonder in photographs.

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