Thursday, May 4, 2017

Photo Friday: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

It's been a long time since I did a photo special, but I have some good shots to share from a late-March visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, in southern California. The area got some hype this year about a super-bloom, and while it was maybe a bit exaggerated, we certainly found good flowers, and far more than we've seen in recent years.

The drive down from San Francisco is a long one, but it was nice to see the hills covered in green (and a fair number of California poppies).

We began our trip with something new (for us): a 60-mile bike ride that took us up into the hills to the west, to have lunch in the town of Julian before a glorious descent back to the park (and the heat).
Pre-sunrise breakfast before starting to ride. We needed an early start to beat the heat and the traffic.
Started right off with the looooong climb out of the valley. This was just the beginning.
After the first  dozen miles, we got a respite in Ranchita. Where they seem to revere Bigfoot (more on him later).
After the ride, and the ice cream, we headed out to check out the main areas with thick flowers.
A field of desert gold (a sort of sunflower, or DYC). There were primroses mixed in, but this was pretty much a monoculture.

The primroses, with desert gold reaching for the sky, and some verbena making a purple splash
Lily. Not a flower we've seen often. It must insist on good conditions.
On out to Font's Point for sunset over the badlands.
Sunset on the badlands.
After a sunset (and a night's sleep), you get a sunrise, and an hour or two of good light. This morning, we had clouds that kept it from getting hot, and made for some good photos as we explored the area near our camp.
Mesquite (I think) and wave clouds.
Brittlebush blossoms, and cholla cactus against a cloudy sky.
I did promise you more Bigfoot sightings. I caught a glimpse of this one--I think it's female--in among the brittlebush. Or it might have been an Ewok.
Actually, that's a dead cholla.
Our final activity was an overnight hike into Borrego Palm Canyon (you need a permit, and you must be willing to scramble some, as there is no trail up the canyon beyond the first palm grove). In 2004 a flash flood scrubbed the canyon and the alluvial fan (and wiped out parts of the campground) pretty well, though the groves were not destroyed. It was encouraging to see how well the groves are recovering, and there are many, many young palms in the canyon. I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if floods help the seeds germinate.
The alluvial fan on the approach to the canyon was a garden, heavy on brittlebush but not limited to it.
The main, and lowest, grove. There is a decent trail to this point.

Palm fronds.
One last mini flower garden before we moved on to see what was blooming in Joshua Tree National Park (quite a lot, as it turned out).
Desert dandilion, and the blue is phacilia, but I'm not sure about the white flowers.

Hope you enjoyed the trip!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2017
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


  1. Gorgeous.
    My gut response to the picture of the bikes overlooking the mountain slopes was "I must get out more". Then I recalled yesterday, when I went for a walk and came home with a damaged calf muscle. No idea how.

    1. To me, that's the reason to get out. When doing ordinary things seems fraught with the opportunity to hurt myself, I figure I need to do them more. Though I wouldn't recommend leaping on a bike and trying to ride up mountains first thing.

  2. I so enjoyed looking at these photos. The landscape is so different from everywhere I've lived and pretty much traveled.

    I also now want to get on my bike more often. :)

    1. I had to look up where you live...yeah, pretty different! There is a beauty to the desert, even when not covered with flowers, that sometimes takes some time to recognize, but I have totally fallen in love.

      As for bikes...wait til I share photos of some of our other rides this winter :)

  3. What beautiful flowers and sky. I used to ride my bike before moving to the city. Last night I dreamed I decided I should just ride my bike since walking is a problem.

    1. I didn't ride for a long time after moving to San Francisco. Then I discovered that there are routes to ride that are not a problem, traffic-wise, and some amazing scenery. Mostly, I had to get the kids old enough that I could go out without a babysitter :)


We want to hear from you! Tell us your reactions, or whatever's on your mind.