Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anza Borrego Desert State Park


On January 25th, we drove to Anza Borrego Desert State Park via Julian, California.  Both places are on Highway 78 East of San Diego.  Julian is a historic mining community that was established after the Civil War.  The men who began the town, Drue Bailey and Mike Julian where there when Fred Colman, a former slave struck gold and made a claim.  Today the main industries are tourism and apples. You can buy anything made with apples in this town and you have to buy an apple pie.  We buy ours from The Julian Pie Company.  We got an unbaked frozen pie and put it in the freezer so we could enjoy it with one of the friends will we meet along the way.  This year, when we were buying a pie, we also got the most delicious donuts I have ever had, apple juice cake donuts with maple frosting.  There are several stores that sell apple items, from pie to cider.  We bought Apple-cherry cider and apple, cinnamon butter for our oatmeal.  Parking is a challenge in the small town of Julian but I highly recommend a trip to this sweet little town.




Anza Berrago Desert State Park is about an hour away from Julian.  The road is very windy and narrow so it’s slow going.  It is a beautiful drive.  Berrago Springs is a small town in the middle of the very large Anza Berrago Desert State Park.  The park has a lot of space for camping but we always go to Anza Berrago, which is just North of Berrago Springs.  This campground is extremely well maintained.  If you camp at a site with no hookups its only $25.00 per night and you have access to tidy bathroom/showers.  Hookup sites are only $35.00 per night and they include electric, water and sewer.  The spaces are not close to each other so you also have privacy.  Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a 6-foot tether.  They are not allowed on many of the trails however, so if you are going hiking in the area, you will have to leave your pup at home.  We love to run, and walk on trails so this is one of our favorite places.  We have found lots of desert trails for running and some that are more fun to just walk on.  There is a nice trail just off of this park that leads to a palm tree oasis.  Mountain goats live in the mountains around here, and one year we watched a group of 4 or 5 bounding around on the rocks.  This trail is well traveled by people wanting to see the palm trees or take pictures of goats so you won’t be alone on the trail. 





Last year Doug and I climbed to the top of a little hill and I took this picture of the campground.  This is only one part of the campground but you can see how far apart the sites are and how nicely it's laid out in the middle of the desert.



There is also a half mile interpretive trail from the State Park to the visitors center.  On this trail you learn about the flora and fauna in the area.  I learned that all of the little holes I have been walking over on the desert are where tarantulas live.  I don’t think I’ll ever tent camp here.  There are lots and lots of those little holes in the desert and they like to come out at night.  There is a wonderful desert garden at the ranger station with signs that identify the various desert bushes and cacti. 






We have been in this campground several times.  Each time we have seen different things and found different trails and places for running and walking.   Doug and I spent one afternoon walking around in the desert.  We went to check out the 17 palm oasis and the 5 palm oasis between our campground and the Salton Sea.  The palm trees were close to the road so we didn’t have to walk in to see them, so we just walked.  There is beauty in the desert.  We wandered down washes for about 2 hours, looking at sandy hills and wondering what the crystal things were.  We found one flowering bush in the middle of the desolate desert.  It was warm but not hot because it’s winter.  I think the temperature topped out at 77 degrees.

I thought this sign was funny.... I guess this is what they call a road;)


We drove on this 'road' and found 17 palms.  The yellow thing is a tent.  A person was camping under the palm trees.


This was one of the only signs of life in the desert, except the palm trees.


This photo is of one of the many mud walls along the trail we were walking.  The dull reddish brown mud sparkled in places.  I found the reason... this shiny crystal substance.  It looks like a rock but it breaks like thin sugar candy.  Doug thought it might be salt, but after tasting it, decided it wasn't.  I wonder what it is.  It ads sparkle and life to an otherwise lifeless area.



In contrast, there are lots of citrus orchards in the area.


You can get whatever is in season at this fruit stand.  There was nobody at the stand on this visit, just the fruit and a can to put your money in.  This year we purchased 3 lemons and 3 grapefruit for $2.00.  An entire large bag of grapefruits was only $3.00.  The fruit was as tasty as it gets too, right off the tree.


If you plan to stay at the Anzo Borrego State Park, I recommend that you make reservations because it is always full.  There are several nice RV parks in the area as well.  There is even a RV park on a golf course...it is California after all.  
  

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