Tag Archives: anza-borrego desert state park

Out & About in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Out & About

I went camping for three days last weekend in Anza-Borrego Desert in Southern California, perhaps the best ever camping trip I have been on.

Out of several hundred Ferocactus cylindraceus plants I saw in the desert, I found these two that clearly show spiraling flowers, rather unusual in cacti.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Go, Fibonacci, go!

When I moved out here in the East San Diego County boondocks at 682′ elevation in July 2017, I started landscaping with my favorite plants. Keep in mind that, at that time, I had 62 years of experience growing my favorite plants.

Well, two of my favorite plants, Agave attenuata and aeoniums, don’t like it out here. Agave attenuata simply doesn’t like it when it gets below 40°F, of which we have had several weeks, and aeoniums don’t like it when it gets too hot, of which we have had several weeks of 100°F+.Grow dammit!

After trying to will them to live and look nice, I gave up in October 2019, and I’ve been replacing all of them with cacti, mostly Ferocactus.

One of my purposes in going desert camping was to get a good look at Ferocactus cylindraceus since it’s native to Southern California just 80 miles from me. I am officially in love (but don’t tell my husband).

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I found the tallest ferocactus I had ever seen, standing six feet and six inches tall, four inches taller than me.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

I’m the one in red.
Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Additionally, I found the clumpiest clump (with seven heads!) and the tallest clump.

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

Ferocactus cylindraceus in Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California

And, to top things off, I found the desert rains and a desert rainbow!

Rainbow in Anza-Borrego Desert

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

Out & About

I was born and raised in Kingsville, Texas, just 70 miles or so north of the Mexican border. Basically that part of South Texas is a desert environment as defined by vegetation—mesquite and acacia trees, thick brush, and, of course, cactus.

I never had a great appreciation of the South Texas desert, and I still prefer a nice redwood or sequoia forest over the desert environs.

However, I do think that desert pictures subject to serious photoshopping make better pictures than the forests.

Here, then, are some Photographic Art of the environs known as the Southern California High Desert, specifically in and around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

I visited the desert back in August, and I’m still wondering where the plums are in Plum Canyon.

This one shows those “purple mountains majesty”:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

The following picture shows a “wash.” Washes are where the waters flow during heavy desert rains, and that cloud you see in the picture brought some heavy rains to where I was. I didn’t stick around to get a picture of any flash floods; I’m more of a dry weather guy.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

In the following picture are two ocotillo, a plant that is quite beautiful in the spring when it blooms.  Surrounding them, and in the middle of the picture, are cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia sp.). Most of the cholla found in Southern California are called “jumping cholla” because the stems easily break off if you brush up against them, and when these things become stuck to your clothing or your skin, it is painful and the thorns are difficult to remove.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

Looking like a moonscape:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

Another wash:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

This mountain had been scarred by a recent wildfire:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

Wildfires are common throughout Southern California. Upon first glance, it doesn’t appear that there is much to burn in a desert, but the saltbush and manzanita provide real nice, oily materials that produce great fires.

In the following picture, I was tempted to follow that road, but my car is a front-wheel drive vehicle, and I’ve learned not to trust it in off-road conditions. There are over 500 miles of dirt roads in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

This shows the community of Borrego Springs in the middle of the picture:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

For the picture above, in the map below I was standing due west of the B in Borrego Springs at the green border.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park location on Google Maps

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, established in 1933, is the largest state park in California, comprising 585,930 acres. The park is very popular in the spring, especially after a good, wet winter, because of the wildflowers, but it’s well worth a visit at any time of the year.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California

Out & About

Even though San Diego technically is a desert, it’s hard for me to consider a city and suburbs of two million people a desert.

To me, a desert lacks people (for the most part) and has lots of sand, cactus, and blue sky.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park, is a great example.

It comprises 600,000 acres, including one-fifth of San Diego County, and is the the second-largest state park in the United States, behind Adirondack Park in New York.

Anza-Borrego State Park in California

Anza-Borrego State Park in California

Anza-Borrego State Park in California

Anza-Borrego State Park in California

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park includes 500 miles of dirt roads, twelve designated wilderness areas, and 110 miles of hiking trails.

Desert Bighorn Sheep at the San Diego ZooThere is a fairly large population of desert bighorn sheep in the desert, so if you see a rock move, look more closely and you might be able to determine that it’s a bighorn sheep instead of a big rock.

It can get extremely hot in the desert, and flash floods are common, so if you go, be sure to take lots of water, keep an eye on the weather (it can change rapidly), and let family and friends know where you plan on going and when you plan on being there.

There are WiFi hot spots in some areas of the desert, but take extra batteries for your phone or laptop. Stop and take pictures, too, because the desert really can be more beautiful than it’s made out to be.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park location on Google Maps

Go to location on Google Maps

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