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Let's Camp: Anza-Borrego State Park

Let's Camp: Anza-Borrego State Park

On a Friday morning, back in March of 2015, we had plans to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park the next day. Like most springtime weekends in Joshua Tree, they posted that all of the campsites were already full. We quickly did some research and found a place called Anza-Borrego - a California State Park in San Diego county. It's about 40 miles away from San Diego, and easily accessible from just about every side.We set about learning as much as we could about this place as swiftly as we could, so that we could figure out where to go and what to do in this massive state park. 

We decided to camp at Culp Valley, which is one of their primitive campgrounds. At an elevation of 3,400 feet, this is the highest campground in the park. It is also the most rocky and one of the more developed campgrounds of the primitive options. There are vault toilets and actual sites, which some of their campgrounds don't have. The road into the campground is dirt, and is well graded and quite short. We liked the landscape in this campground - lots of rocks and boulders all around.


We had a very windy night at our campsite. We chose a spot that left us somewhat perched out in the open. Had we to do it over again, we would opt for some protection around us. 

After waking up, checking for scorpions in our boots, and packing up our site, we headed out to play. The town at the bottom of the 3,400 feet high campground has a nice little visitor center. We got a sticker and enjoyed looking around, inside and outside. They have a large garden area with lots of different plants to explore. We enjoyed the long twisty ride down the hill, but felt like we were burning our entire fuel tank getting back up! We took a nice climb around the area right next to where we camped. There is a trail a bit further up the road from the campground which leads to a few trails. We were rookies at camping and hiking, and did not wear the greatest shoes, plus it got super hot rather quickly. We didn't last too long hiking. 

The night before, we climbed a large pile of rocks right next to our campsite. This provided a lovely view of the sunset. It was fun navigating the climb up and back down, without scraping knees or dropping cameras. 

A quick tip about Anza-Borrego - most of the camping is free. Take advantage! 

We enjoyed this quick overnight at Anza, and have since made a lengthy list of things to do when we go back. This park has some amazing things to see and do, and we'll definitely be going back more than once. 

Some quick tips:

  • Many of the campsites are free - explore your options around this large park.
  • Backcountry camping is allowed all over the park, short of a few rules. Check out the park website for specific details, some of which are seasonal.
  • Fires cannot be burned on the ground. Take a metal tub or a pit to burn in. We bought a metal "wash tub" at Lowe's for $15, and it has been used quite often since this trip. Leave no trace!
  • The visitor center is very nice, worth stopping in.
  • If you have four wheel drive, you will have a wide variety of sources of entertainment. There are many dirt roads, many aggressive off-roading places, and some canyons you can explore in a 4x4 vehicle.
  • Wildlife is abundant in this park - from longhorn sheep, to rabbits, to scorpions, to coyotes. Protect their environment while you share it with them! 
  • Borrego Springs is a town. There is gas, food, resorts, etc. If you need water, you can find it there.

all photos taken by Andrea and Kim
Cameras: Fuji XT-1, Minolta Auto-Zoom, Kodak Cameo, Superheadz Ultrawide Slim
Film: Kodak Gold, Lomography Redscale, Fuji Superia 200

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