Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree

I was thinking about making a run out to Anza Borrego and Juniper Tree after Thanksgiving. I’ve got a fairly capable SUV (4Runner) and am just camping out in my truck.

I’m interested in natural beauty, dive bars, easy going offroading, and cheap local food.

Should I be worried about inclement weather? (as far as impassible or difficult tracks are concerned).

The weather should be fine this weekend. But Anza Borego? That’s the back end of nowhere. You’re not going to find much in the way of dive bars or food out there unless you head up to Mecca or Thermal, both of which are rife with dives.

I’m taking off from San Diego, so I was thinking that I would be passing through Anza Borrego anyhow. Someone thought it was awesome enough to make it a state park. Maybe it’s because of awesome wildflowers or something.

Juniper Tree? Do you mean Joshua Tree Nat’l Monument?

Anza Borrego is a really cool place if you like to find fossils, Elephant and Camel prints, P.Wood, all kinds of long since dead things as well as old tagging by Indians and even yoni’s here and there. Most people think it is all about open spaces and flowers in the spring, but, if you are willing to do research, (as ABDSP and the Stout Research Center are reluctant due to vandals from disclosing locations) you can find some really cool things. If interested in some of the more publicly known places, let me know.

Fuck, can a passing mod change the title?


I camped in Anza Borrego once. It really is a beautiful and unusual desert landscape. It was a prehistoric lake bed, so the sand is very fine and white and there are large dunes. We were the only people there, so the feeling was very sort of eerie/romantic.

No offroading, though. We accidentally backed our SUV over the most pitiful-looking scrub imaginable and got a scolding from a park ranger.

Also, it’s the desert. It will be cold.

We go to the Indian Cove campgrounds every year (in October). It’s not too far to run into 29 Palms for food or to a bar. Almost every day you can watch climbers going up the boulders, some freestyle and many roped up. It is likely to be very cold (but clear)this weekend.

Borrego Palm Canyon in Anza Borrego used to be one of my favorite wild spots, but a massive flash flood a few years back more or less permanently ( i.e. for a number of years to come ) marred it compared to what it was. Last time I visited it was still neat, but no longer spectacular.

That said, it is well worth a visit if you like deserts. Not as scenic as Joshua Tree, but still cool. And if you go at the right time there usually seem to be mother roadrunners with babies hanging out near the Borrego Palm visitor’s center ( at least that’s been my experience on three seperate occasions ). Nothing more fun than watching a mama roadrunner jumping up to snatch butterflies out of the air to feed the cute little chicks running around her feet

Love love love the rock climbing in Joshua Tree Nat’l Monument (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a Nat’l Park now, but I can’t say it that way). Great camping, nice & flat & dry. Beautiful skies with very little light pollution if you’re into stargazing. Going to be pretty damned cold this weekend though…

Fond memory- in 1986 (?) I saw Halley’s Comet from there. So bright & amazing! We had a huge telescope but saw it almost as well with only binoculars! :cool:

Well, I’m back. Thanks for all the replies. I didn’t spend much time in Anza Borrego as I finally made it to the off road area at dusk and ended up getting kind of lost due to the myriad off road trails. I hope to go back as it looks pretty interesting and you can camp for free!

Joshua Tree was really fantastic. The Geology Tour Road was really cool. I did a tiny amount of bouldering and might actually invest in a pair of climbing shoes to make it easier.

I stayed at Jumbo Rocks which is an awesome campground with the sites nestled amongst the rock formations. Hidden Valley is really stunning and a rather unique geological formation.

I ended up exiting via Old Dale Road which turns into Gold Crown Road which turned way grarlier than expected. I was kind of sketched out as I’m not much of an offroader. The little 4Runner truck handled it great though!

Unfortunately there was that traffic mess on I10 where traffic was held up for something like 8 hours so I ended up driving up to Victorville and getting a traffic ticket for allegedly California stopping at some fucking podunk town in the middle of nowhere. This was bullshit because I always stop at stop signs.

Next time you head out to Anza-Borrego, pick up a copy of The Anza-Borrego Desert Region: A Guide to State Park and Adjacent Areas of the Western Colorado Desert. It has directions and descriptions of just about every trail and back road in the park. There are some nice slot canyons and “mud caves” that are pretty easy to get to with a high-clearance vehicle. If you’re more adventurous, you can check out the old railroad construction sites and Goat Trestle at Carrizo Gorge in the southern part of the park.

My favorite place to camp in the area is Egg Hill, just off the entrance road to Bow Willow campground. There are only a couple of spots up on top of a hill that overlooks the whole area…most of the time there’s nobody else up there. Agua Caliente County Park is down there too, if you want to soak in a nice big hot tub. Farther south, there’s a dive bar called the Lazy Lizard Saloon in Ocotillo, right off I-8.

NOOOOOO…I was just about to recommend this. :frowning:

I was sad :(.

First Grove is a ghost of its former lush self, its stream-hugging riparian vegetation peeled away along with nearly all lower-lying palms. Fan palms are invasive wherever water is permanently present, as it is here. They will return in force to this site over the next quarter century. From a 2005 article. Deeper in is in better shape, but at that point it is definitely off-trail hiking and a little harder to access.

So if you’ve only been there since 2004, you might not realize what you missed. But most of the old gorgeous oasis pools of First Grove are now gone and at my last visit in 2009 I couldn’t find any California Tree Frogs with their odd little duck quack-like croaking ( they have a very spotty distribution and oases like this are the best place to find them ). No doubt they’re still there, but I used to find them easily.

It’s still a pretty cool place, but not quite as magnificent as it once was.

ETA: It was estimated that 70% of the palm trees in the canyon were lost from that one blow.