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Category: Camping

Camping tent Anza-Borrego State Park

Desert Camping Anza-Borrego

Anza-Borrego Desert offers a multitude of camping options. There are four developed campgrounds with over 175 sites. These campgrounds also include group sites and Tamarisk Grove has primitive cabins for rent and if you really want to get away from it all Anza-Borrego allows roadside camping.

Camping amongst the cacti.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Anza-Borrego State Park is located about 2 hours away from both San Diego and Los Angeles. The park is open 7 days a week and there is a $10 fee for day use. After paying the entrance fee your first stop should be the visitor’s center. Inside volunteers and rangers have a wealth of information about the wildflowers, cacti, palm groves, and wildlife you might encounter in the park. They can also provide maps and current conditions for hikes. There are a small gift shop and restrooms located outside the doors.

The Cactus Bloom in the spring.

The Best Season to Camp at Anza-Borrego

Winter and Spring are the preferred seasons to camp at Anza-Borrego. Reservations can be made through Reserve California. Weekends in February book up far in advance. A regular site is $25 a night. Each site includes a picnic table, a shade awning, and a fire ring. There are a variety of bathrooms spread amongst the campsites including some pit toilets, some flushing toilets, and a few you just have to see to believe.

Tamarisk Grove in Anza-Borrego State Park

I have camped in Anza-Borrego State Park two times. The first time the only reservation I could find was at Tamarisk Grove for a cabin. I was leery about the definition of a cabin, but I made the reservations. The cabins cost $60 a night and are basically a large shed with a door and two windows. There is room for 8 to sleep and inside are bunk beds and a loft, however, there are no mattresses provide. You need to bring an inflatable or you will be sleeping on plywood. There are a table and two chairs, no electricity or running water and the door locks. Overall, the cabin provided protection from the howling wind and it was a cozy place to spend the night.

A Cabin in The Desert

We were able to hang our hammocks outside in between the poles of the shade awning. The hammocks were a perfect place to relax and read a book. When it was time for dinner we set up my jet boil on the picnic table and cooked ontop. After dinner, we made a fire in the fire ring and made s’ mores. The bathrooms at Tamarisk were nice, clean and they flushed. Because we only stayed one night we didn’t try the coin-operated showers. There are two easy hikes that start across the street from Tamarisk. They are the Yaqui Well Nature Trail and the Cactus Loop Trail.

Desert Camping

For our second overnight, we stayed in the main campground for Anza-Borrego State Park. We stayed in February during the rainy season and we didn’t make reservations, because we thought it was going to rain and we would have to cancel. When we arrived at the main gate they told us that they were completely booked for the night. We asked them lots of questions about the group site or the hike-in site and the ranger decided to let us camp in a hike-in site. Again at this site, we had a picnic table, a shade awning, and a fire-pit. The bathroom by our site did not have a roof and it had two toilets with a wall in between, but no doors. Not a toilet for the modest. We decided it was best to go to the bathroom in pairs and use one person as a look-out.

The craziest toilet I have ever seen.

A Hike That Leaves From The Campground

There are various hikes that start throughout the campground. One of the most popular hikes is Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. It is a moderate 2.9 miles roundtrip hike. There are signs warning you of the importance of bringing enough water with you for this hike. There is no drinkable water and you wiil not find any shade until you get to the palms. In the spring if it has been a rainy year there is a stream that runs down along the trail. It is possible to see a variety of animals on this hike including iguanas, Chuckwallas, and Bighorn Sheep. Once you get to the palms you will feel like you have made it to an oasis. The palms are huge and tower over you. They provide the much-needed shade from the scorching desert sun.

A Small Desert Town

The little town of Borrego Springs is right outside the entrance to Anza-Borrego State Park. In the center of town is Christmas Tree Circle. Here you can find a grassy common area, bathrooms, and free wi-fi. There are a few restaurants, gas stations, and little stores, however, be sure and check the hours, because of some of the places close early.

The Ocotillo were almost ready to bloom.

Dragons in the Desert

During your camping trip make sure you leave time to visit some of the 130 life-size art sculptures that are located around the town of Borrego Springs. The Chamber of Commerce has a map that shows the locations of the sculptures and because they are spread out you will need to drive to see them all. If you are camping with kids, this should be on your list of fun things to do.

The Sea Dragon

Free Dispersed Camping in Anza-Borrego

If you would like to camp in Anza-Borrego and are not able to get reservations you are allowed to camp for free as long as you follow the rules. Your car can’t be park more than one car length off of the road, however, your tent can be further you just need to walk. Another rule to remember is that you need to be at least 100 yards away from a water source. Furthermore, if you plan on having a campfire you need to have it in a metal container. No ground fires are allowed and lastly, you are responsible for hauling out your trash.

Staying in Anza-Borrego

Anza-Borrego has a lot to offer. There are plenty of both hiking and 4 x 4 trails. If you plan your visit right you might see the desert wildflowers in full bloom and at nighttime, you will get an amazing view of the stars. The desert just might surprise you, so get out there and start exploring.

Anza-Borrego Desert
Anza-Borrego Desert

Lone Pine, CA

Lone Pine is just a 3 1/2 hour drive from Southern Californa. Living in Southern California, every fall I see the pictures of the beautiful yellow Aspens and the turquoise waters of Big Pine Lakes. This year my fearless, fellow adventurer “Sally” and I decided we were going to make the trip to see it for ourselves. We made reservations for Columbus weekend at Lone Pine Campground.

Driving to Lone Pine

We left the Los Angeles area Saturday around 7 a.m. It only took us a little over 3 and half hours to get to Lone Pine. Our first stop was the infamous Alabama Hills Cafe. The cafe was packed with hikers. Some obviously just finishing up long through hikes and others that were out for the day. We sat at the counter and ordered omelettes. While we were waiting for our breakfast we had time to look at the giant map on the wall detailing all the stops in the Alabama Hills. On the way out we got giant chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies to go. Their bakery goods looked amazing and they make them all in house.

Alabama Hills Cafe

Lone Pine Campground

We drove to our campsite and we thought that we were going to be camping in the middle of the desert and that it would not be very pretty, however, we were dead wrong. Lone Pine Campground is pretty. We had a walk in site. To the right of our site was a creek and trees and directly behind us was Mt. Whitney. The views were amazing. It was a beautiful morning, but there was an 80% chance of rain for the afternoon. We set up our tents and decided to go exploring.

Camping in Lone Pine

Lone Pine Camp Ground

Exploring Lone Pine

Our first stop was right down the road from our camp, Alabama Hills. The hills were named after a CSS warship. The area is BLM land and there were plenty of people camping in random locations. Alabama Hills has been used as a location for filming many old Westerns. We drove through and stopped at various points to get out and hike. Mobius Arch is just a short hike from the car. The arch forms a perfect peek-a-boo window looking at Mt. Whitney.

Alabama Hills

The entrance to Alabama Hills.

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

A perfect view of Mt. Whitney

A perfect view of Mt. Whitney.

A big storm was on the way.

A big storm was on the way.

Manzanar Historical Site

The sky was getting dark and ugly and we decided to head indoors. We drove up 395 to Manzanar National Historic Site. I had drove past Manzanar many times, but never stopped. There is a visitor center with rooms full of displays. In 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor 10,000 Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to Manzanar. The displays explain their loss and experiences at Manzanar and other internment camps throughout the West. There is also a 3 mile driving loop around the grounds and you can get out and go inside buildings and see ponds and gardens. We were only able to go inside one building before the rainstorm hit.

Manzanar

Manzanar

A Storm in Lone Pine

We drove back to our campsite to see how our tents had held up. At one point there were gust of 40mph and pouring rain. The good news is our tents were still standing, the bad news is the wind blew so hard that my rain fly ripped on both sides of my tent. The wind was so strong that it pulled all my tent stakes out of the ground. After readjusting our tents we decided that there was more rain coming and we did not want to try and cook in it. Sally and I got back in the car and drove to town. We found a Mexican Food restaurant and we drank beer and ate enchiladas while we watched the rain pour down outside the window.

A double rainbow.

A double rainbow on the way back to camp.

Tent Camping

Not being avid campers, we were more than apprehensive about spending the night in our tents in the rain and the wind. By 7:30 p.m. it was so wet and windy outside we said goodnight and crawled in our tents. We each had our backpacking sleeping bags inside our old fashioned Coleman sleeping bags. The double bags kept us warm, but sleeping when the wind is howling is not easy. All night long it felt like there was something or someone coming in the tent. Somehow I finally fell asleep.

Day 2 : We’re heading to Big Pine Lakes.

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