In March, millions of flowers spring into bloom in the Southern California desert parks, most notably in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, carpeting the desert floor in all kinds of colors, from white and yellow to purple and blue. These Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers are a fascinating sight to see, attracting huge crowds of campers and day visitors.
Spring Crowds Flood the Anza-Borrego Desert
I just spent three days in Anza-Borrego State Park and I’m impressed. I decided to come here after looking at a map—I was looking for a place to go close to San Diego while Caroline was in Mexico for one of her flower workshops. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about this place, let alone that mid-March is the best time to see wildflowers. Definitely lucked out! Also, I’m glad I reserved a campsite about a month ago. Literally everything is fully booked this time of year.
The number of people that visit the Anza-Borrego Desert is staggering. Desert roads that I image are completely empty most of the year are now filled with cars. Vehicles are slowed down to walking speed in long traffic jams. From noon to the late-afternoon, police officers are necessary to direct traffic and keep things running somewhat smoothly. Mornings, on the other hand, are gorgeous, comfortable and relatively quiet.
Walking through the Anza-Borrego Desert feels like walking in a botanical garden. That can either mean that there’s an incredible number of flowers and other desert plants, or that botanical gardens do a fantastic job. In this case, it’s both.
Millions and millions of wildflowers cover the landscape around Borrego Springs, the small and main town in the heart of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It’s the center of human activity in the area, home to restaurants, cafés, accommodations, grocery stores and gas stations. I recommend that you make this area your base during your visit to the Anza-Borrego Desert. It’s where most of the action is. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center and a nice state park-managed campground lie just west of the town.
Where to See the Wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert
Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers are found all around—and even in—Borrego Springs. The best areas to see a variety of them are along Henderson Canyon Road, around the Visitor Center and, my favorite, in Borrego Palm Canyon.
The best way to see them is on foot. Strap on some sturdy hiking boots, grab your camera and bring plenty of water. Go for a hike. There’s nothing like a long walk to get to know a place and, most important, to get a different perspective. There are many fun and short hiking trails to the west of Borrego Springs. Again, my favorite one was the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, a three-mile roundtrip to a California fan palm oasis.
When you head out for a hike, do so in the morning. Sunrise is the most beautiful and coolest time of the day in the desert. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. It’s not only about the Anza-Borrego Desert flowers here; there are also numerous animals around. Always watch where you step, as rattlesnakes inhabit the area. Other animals that you might spot include bighorn sheep—borrego is the Spanish name for these hardy, desert-adapted sheep—, black-tailed jackrabbit and antelope squirrels. Mountain lions and coyotes also call the Anza-Borrego Desert home, but you won’t see them. You will hear the latter at night, though!
Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers in Photos
Some Anza-Borrego Desert Visitor Tips
- Recommended campground: Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
- Best hike: Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
- Best areas for wildflowers: Henderson Canyon Road and Borrego Palm Canyon
- Wi-Fi: The local library, located at The Mall in Borrego Springs, has fast and free Wi-Fi, even during closing hours
- More information: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park