The Anza-Borrego Desert is notoriously expansive. It's reaches from the Salton Sea to the foothills below Julian and from the north most border of San Diego county to the Mexican border make it California's largest State Park. Traveling through it, as with most desert travel, can be a daunting task. With its substantial cholla coverage, dry air, gusting winds, and (even in the Spring) the heat traipsing through Anza requires:
Lots of water
Respect for the sun
Love for the shade
and Afternoon naps.
As many Southern Californians know every few years, with the combination of copious amounts of rain followed by just the right amount of sun, Anza-Borrego's wildflower population explodes for a few precious weeks. "Super Bloom" conditions are rare but when they're present the pop of life and color paint the desert floor with nearly unimaginable quantities of illusive, short-lived wild flowers.
Chase & I drove in late on Saturday night over San Diego's eastern ranges and halfway down to the desert floor to meet my brother, PJ, at Culp Valley Campground. PJ being the default camp leader and eternal Eagle Scout had a fire started, a map of the valley and its flower populations, and a warning about the volume of visitors. So we hunkered down, set up camp, and roasted weenies under a full moon in anticipation of seeking the desert's most fragile beauties the following day.
The desert proves that patience is a virtue and does so once again with its droves of weekend wildflower seekers craning from their vehicles on day trips from the Imperial Valley, San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, and beyond. Rather than battle the masses for a quick look at a roadside blossom, PJ warned that we wait until the weekend warriors' exodus on Sunday afternoon.
At about 5PM we began our decent into Borrego Springs valley. With Daylight Savings in full effect and another hour of sunlight on our side, the sun began to angle from the west and we found ourselves alone in the valley. Few tourists remained as we made our way through town, out Henderson Valley road toward State Road 22 and just as golden hour set in a rush of color hit the valley floor. Golden flowers swung in the gentle desert breeze all across the usually empty and dry-cracked mud valley floor. Purple clusters shivered in the air with the heat of the day subsiding. And we had it all to ourselves.
In collaboration with Chase Ottney