Hikes in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The trails below are listed from north to south and west to east. The hikes may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help plan a trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions, and everything needed to explore the park. You can also view hikes around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on the Hike Finder Map.

Highlights of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  • This 5.5-mile hike visits a 20-foot waterfall in a canyon near Borrego Springs, making it the perfect place to cool off on a hot day in the California Desert.
  • This 4.25-mile figure-eight loop visits enthralling narrows and a mine site important to the history of the Anza-Borrego Desert.
  • This 2.2-mile loop visits Culp Valley Overlook and Pena Springs, delivering views of the San Ysidro Mountains and Borrego Valley along the way.
  • This 1.5-mile hike follows a footpath across Tubb Canyon to Big Spring in a desert canyon below Pinyon Ridge in the San Ysidro Mountains.
  • This 3.25-mile loop visits a popular palm tree oasis in a canyon west of Borrego Springs.
  • This 1.15-mile loop sets out from Yaqui Pass to reach an incredible viewpoint across Mescal Bajada.
  • This 0.6-mile hike visits a village of boulders once occupied by Kumeyaay Indians who left behind Morteros, grinding bowls carved into the rock.
  • This 1.3-mile hike ascends to the ruins of an adobe cabin on Ghost Mountain (Yaquitepec) with great views above Blair Valley.
  • This 1.25-mile hike climbs to a sandstone formation overlooking the Carrizo Badlands that begs to be explored.
  • This 1.8-mile hike visits rock paintings drawn by Kumeyaay Indians who lived in the Anza-Borrego Desert thousands of years ago.

Hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California, covering nearly 1,000 square miles. It is only about twenty percent smaller than Joshua Tree National Park to the north and offers much to experience. Landscapes within the park range from badlands, to narrow canyons, to palm tree oases, and snow-capped peaks. There are over 500 miles of dirt roads to travel down and plenty of trails to explore. If you are planning a trip to the California desert, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has what you are looking for.


The name Anza-Borrego comes from Borrego, the Spanish word for Bighorn Sheep, and Anza, the last name of Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish explorer who led an expedition into this desert in 1774, becoming the first non-native to do so. Since Anza’s time, more settlers have come to this desert. There are numerous private land holdings within the park, including the city of Borrego Springs, home to the park visitor center and other useful amenities like gas stations and restaurants.

Cholla cacti, creosote bushes, and ocotillo are common throughout the park, which also features more rare vegetation like Elephant Trees. Desert wildflowers are one of the main draws to Anza-Borrego. Spring blooms add dazzling colors to the arid landscape.

Elevation in the park varies from just 15 feet above sea level in the east near the Salton Sea to 6,193 feet in the northwest at Combs Peak. Daytime temperatures on the desert floor are typically in the seventies in the winter and well over one hundred degrees in the summer (not the best time to visit). Temperatures in higher elevations are milder and can be below freezing at night.

Dogs are welcome on leashes within campgrounds and on paved roadways. Dogs are not allowed on trails or in wilderness areas. Overall, the desert is not a good place for dogs. Burned paw pads, cactus quills, and snakebites pose a danger to dogs. Canines threaten desert wildlofe as well. A dog’s scent can scare animals away from trail areas, shrinking the habitat they rely on to survive.

The Anza-Borrego Desert sits at the south end of the Colorado Desert on the eastern edge of San Diego County. The park is about ninety minutes from downtown San Diego and three hours from Los Angeles. Once you get to the Anza-Borrego Desert, the camping options are plentiful. If you are not interested in sleeping on the ground, check out other lodging options on tripadvisor.com.

Hikes in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Anza-Borrego Desert Calcite Mine810Calcite Mine Trail
This figure-eight shaped lollipop loop visits enthralling narrows and a mine site important to the history of the Anza-Borrego Desert.
4 - 4.25 miles
600 feet
33.281126,
-116.096372
Anza-Borrego Desert Borrego Palm Canyon820Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
This loop visits a popular palm tree oasis in a canyon west of Borrego Springs.
3.25 miles
450 feet
33.269838,
-116.418042
Anza-Borrego Desert Panoramic Overlook Trail822Panoramic Overlook Trail
The out and back hike ascends a ridge on the south side of Borrego Palm Canyon to sweeping views of the San Ysidro Mountains and Borrego Valley.
1 mile
300 feet
33.267663,
-116.409476
Anza-Borrego Desert Hellhole Canyon Waterfall830Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls
This out and back hike visits a 20-foot waterfall in a canyon near Borrego Springs, making it the perfect place to cool off on a hot day in the California Desert.
5.5 miles
1,000 feet
33.248037,
-116.40594
Culp Valley Loop833Culp Valley Loop
This loop visits Culp Valley Overlook and Pena Springs, delivering views of the San Ysidro Mountains and Borrego Valley along the way.
2.2 miles
200 feet
33.2241,
-116.454725
Tubb Canyon Trail836Tubb Canyon Trail to Big Spring
This out and back hike follows a footpath across Tubb Canyon to Big Spring in a desert canyon below Pinyon Ridge in the San Ysidro Mountains.
1.5 miles
200 feet
33.211274,
-116.438534
Anza-Borrego Desert Slot Canyon840The Slot
This out and back hike crosses a narrow canyon beneath a natural rock span that is among the most photographed landmarks in the park.
0.8 miles
100 feet
33.182132,
-116.214176
Kenyon Overlook Trail843Kenyon Overlook Trail
This loop sets out from Yaqui Pass to reach an incredible viewpoint across Mescal Bajada.
1.15 miles
125 feet
33.148143,
-116.348653
Anza-Borrego Desert Cactus Loop Trail845Cactus Loop Trail
This loop on a self-guided nature trail explores cacti and other plants that have adapted to survive in the Anza-Borrego Desert.
0.75 miles
250 feet
33.138755,
-116.37494
Yaqui Well Trail Anza-Borrego Desert846Yaqui Well Trail
This out and back hike on a self-guided nature trail explores area botany and history on the way to a rare desert water source.
1.6 miles
100 feet
33.138333,
-116.37649
Kumeyaay Indian Village Site850Village Site
No hiking required to visit this Kumeyaay Indian Village Site on Mine Wash Road where you can find morteros in a collection of boulders.
0.1 miles33.113076,
-116.34512
Anza-Borrego Desert  Narrows Earth Trail855Narrows Earth Trail
This short self-guided loop explores the geology of the park.
0.5 miles
50 feet
33.13072,
-116.301549
Anza-Borrego Desert Elephant Trees Trail860Elephant Trees Trail
This easy loop offers a lesson in desert botany including the rare elephant tree.
1 mile
50 feet
33.068153,
-116.1168
Anza-Borrego Desert Pictograph Trail870Pictograph Trail
This out and back hike visits rock paintings drawn by Kumeyaay Indians who lived in the Anza-Borrego Desert thousands of years ago.
1.8 miles
150 feet
33.019574,
-116.359625
Anza-Borrego Desert Morteros Trail880Morteros Trail
This out and back hike visits a village of boulders once occupied by Kumeyaay Indians who left behind Morteros, grinding bowls carved into the rock.
0.6 miles
40 feet
33.008959,
-116.378478
Marshal South Cabin Trail890Marshal South Home Trail
This out and back hike ascends to the ruins of an adobe cabin on Ghost Mountain (Yaquitepec) with great views above Blair Valley.
1.3 miles
450 feet
33.003382,
-116.389789
Rainbow Canyon900Rainbow Canyon Trail
This out and back hike follows an undeveloped trail up a colorful canyon full of vibrant rock formations and desert plants.
2.2 miles
250 feet
32.997806,
-116.447558
Anza-Borrego Desert Wind Caves930Wind Caves Trail
This short hike climbs to a sandstone formation that begs to be explored.
1.25 miles
250 feet
32.991103,
-116.112556

View California Desert hikes and campgrounds in a larger Google Map
Or explore hikes around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on the Hike Finder Map
hikespeak
Rock Spring Mojave National Park Rock Spring Loop Trail Rock House Hike
Water is something you don't see much of in Mojave National Preserve, certainly not just pooling on the ground as it does at Rock Spring. The constant source at Rock Spring helped inhabitants survive in the Mojave Desert for thousands of years and was even the site of a small U.S. Army post in the 1860s. Today you can reach the spring easily, along with a Rock House... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: |
Distance: 1.33 miles – Elevation change: 100 feet
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 22, 2014
Kumeyaay Indian Village Site Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Native American morteros location to visit
Labeled simply as the "Village Site" on park maps, the Kumeyaay Village in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is an easy to visit location where Native Americans lived for thousands of years. Take a short stroll around a pile of boulders along Mine Wash Road and spot grinding holes amongst the rocks. A sign at the Kumeyaay Village reads:Native desert people have been... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 23, 2014
Tamarisk Grove Campground in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park camping
Tamarisk Grove campground is one of four developed campgrounds in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with 27 sites, plenty of shade, amenities, and nearby hiking trails. Tamarisk Grove has interesting history too, originally serving as a San Diego County prison camp. Thanks to numerous park improvements, it won't feel like you are doing hard time to spend a little time at... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 24, 2014
Cactus Loop Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park self-guided cactus hike Tamarisk Grove Campground cacti nature trail cactus flowers hike
Broadly speaking, the desert is where you go to find cacti. Speaking specifically, Cactus Loop Trail is where you go in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see lots of cacti. True you can spot these prickly plants throughout the park, but this self-guided nature trail explores a rocky ridge that is utterly blanketed with a variety of cacti. A state park provided trail... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 19, 2014
Yaqui Well Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Nature Trail self-guided hike San Felipe Wash Yaqui Well springs Tamarisk Grove Campground hike
Yaqui Well Trail is one of the free self-guided nature trails in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Pair a trail guide (that you can pick up at the trailhead) with numbered markers along the way to learn about the history and botany of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as you enjoy the surrounding scenery. The 1.6-mile round trip trail with 100 feet of elevation gain ends at... Read more.
By: hikespeak Last updated: July 23, 2014