Culp Valley Primitive Campground
in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Culp Valley is a primitive campground in the San Ysidro Mountains west of Borrego Springs. At 3,375 feet above sea level, the campground a cradled by peaks. Here’s what Culp Valley Primitive Campground doesn’t have: water, picnics tables, fire rings, and charcoal grills. Here is what the campground does have: vault toilets and ground to put a tent on. That’s why they call it primitive camping, and the price is right – free!
Culp Valley Primitive Campground does not have any trees, but boulder piles and tall brush do provide early morning and late afternoon shade. The potential campsites are located around a few dirt roads that branch out around the campground. The surrounding brush and boulders add privacy so that you can avoid seeing other campers while you unwind in the desert.
You can get a good view of the desert city of Borrego Springs in Borrego Valley from a scenic overlook at the end of Culp Valley Trail, a half-mile long wheelchair-friendly hiking trail departing from from the campground. This trail can be used as part of Culp Valley Loop, a 2.2-mile hike to Culp Valley Overlook and nearby Peña Springs, a pleasant trek that all campers should enjoy.
Dogs are allowed on leashes on camp roads only (not on trails). Ground fires are not permitted. All fires must be in metal containers. Wood gathering is prohibited. The camping area is first-come first-serve. If Culp Valley Primitive Campground is full, several other options are available for camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including four developed campgrounds and seven other primitive campgrounds. Culp Valley Primitive Campground is the highest campground in the park and offers cooler evening temperatures than other campgrounds.
To get to the campground: From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive 1.3 miles west on Palm Canyon Road. Turn left on Montezuma Valley Road (Route S22), which is 0.4 miles before the park visitor center. Drive southwest on Montezuma Valley Road for 8.2 miles and turn right (north) on a dirt road into Culp Valley Primitive Campground. Bear right at the intersection with the road to Peña Springs and proceed 0.2 miles to the camping area. Culp Valley Trail is to the left and the vault toilets are to the right.
From outside the west side of the park, take Route 79 to Warner Springs and continue south on Route 79 for 3.5 miles. Turn left (east) on San Felipe Road and proceed 4.7 miles to Montezuma Valley Road. Turn left and proceed 9.2 miles on Montezuma Valley Road to Culp Valley Primitive Campground on the left.
Campground address: Montezuma Valley Road, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Ranchita, CA 92066
Campground coordinates: 33.220541, -116.458858 (33° 13′ 13.94″N 116° 27′ 31.88″W)
Use the map below to view the campground and get directions:
Or view California Desert trails and campgrounds in a larger map
|Culp Valley Loop|
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.
|Tubb Canyon Trail|
This 1.5-mile hike follows a footpath across Tubb Canyon to Big Spring in a desert canyon below Pinyon Ridge.
|Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls|
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.
|Borrego Palm Canyon Trail|
This 3.25-mile loop visits a popular palm tree oasis in a canyon west of Borrego Springs.
|Panoramic Overlook Trail|
The 1-mile round trip hike ascends a ridge on the south side of Borrego Palm Canyon to sweeping views of the San Ysidro Mountains and Borrego Valley.
|Calcite Mine Trail|
This 4.25-mile trek climbs 600 feet to a historic mine site, exploring exciting narrows along the way.
This short hike descends through a narrow canyon beneath a natural rock span that is among the most photographed landmarks in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
|Hikes in the California Desert|
Explore more trails in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Mojave National Preserve.
|Anza-Borrego Desert Campgrounds|
Four developed campgrounds, eight primitive campgrounds, and extensive roadside camping accommodate your visit to California’s largest state park.
|Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers|
The desert bloom brings bursts of color to barrel cactus, beavertail cactus, ocotillo, and more.
May I park my car overnight at Culp Valley Primitive Campground? Parking permit needed?
Permits are not needed throughout most of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. You will not need a permit to park overnight at Cult Valley. Have a good trip!
I loved this spot so much I started a website to document my favorite campsites. Very quiet, spectacular views, tons of hikes, dog friendly, great ranger who was very helpful.
Above it says there are no fire rings, does this mean campers are allowed to start their own fire for cooking purposes and such on the ground? if someone could please clarify. thanks
Ground fires are not permitted, and metal containers must be used for all campfires. A stove will be your best option for cooking. If you want to have a campfire, the park rules require that you bring a metal container to keep your fine in off the ground. Along with your metal container, you’ll need to pack out all your coals. Coals should not be buried or spread out on the soil. For a free primitive campground that has fire rings, you could check out Fish Creek Primitive Campground. Chat with a ranger for more info and have a great trip!
They want no trace of fire left behind. No burn marks, no ashes, no nothing. Try a solar oven or heat your canned food in the sun. Cold camp = no fire.
Or use a propane stove.
It is primitive, as all that is provided is a vaulted toilet with no hand-washing stations, but there are a lot of good things about the site. There are quite a few spots to camp and tall bushes to camp near for privacy. There is one hiking trail that is short, but great hikes can be found in any direction and you will be very quickly isolated from the campsite. All of them have great views and offer some challenge if you decide to scale boulders. The campsite itself is pretty quiet even when full. Also, almost anywhere you walk to has a great view of the desert far below and the mountains to the south.
One thing I will say for those using maps and not GPS, the sign for the campground comes up right before the entrance to it (when coming from either direction), it’s kind of sudden.
Bring lots of water!
Nice place to camp. Beautiful, boulder-strewn, mountainous desert landscape. My 2WD car was fine driving in, avoiding deep ruts. Being a higher elevation, it was significantly colder and windier at Culp than other campgrounds in Anza Borrego. I was CHILLY (28 degrees at night in December). A few coyotes were trotting by when I got up in the night.
I read above that permits are not needed correct? Can someone elaborate about first come first serve? How early are we talking about in order to get a spot?
First time visiting Anza Borrego, and I’m wondering which primitive campsite is nearest to the slot canyon trail?
Yaqui Well Primitive Campground would be a good choice. You can see more campground here.
I have a small Motor Home, can I camp at Culp? thanks…
[…] reading this excellent post from hikespeak.com, I decided to head to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for a night of star-gazing […]
This is what I’ve been looking for-uncivilized camping. We are lucky here in Canada, most of our parks are like this. That being said, first come first serve makes me a bit nervous given I plan to come December 30.
What is the likelihood of availability?
Can you stay at this campsite for more than 1 day?
Certainly. Up to 14 days is fine!
[…] course, you can camp at one of many other campgrounds nearby, and Culp Valley Campground is also a good option, which I also considered. In fact, one of the trails that starts from […]
Has anyone been up here in the last week or two? Wondering what the evening temperatures are..
Is the Culp Valley campground open? 3/22/20?
This place is magical
There is a beautiful hike up the hill from Culp Valley campground. Have a look: https://youtu.be/588vWhBQMcI