Experience the Magic of Borrego Springs!
Borrego Springs, a quiet little town located on the desert floor of Anza-Borrego Desert, is surrounded by the 600,000-acre Borrego Desert State Park. This peaceful community located about 80 miles northeast of San Diego and 170 miles southwest of Los Angeles is often compared to the Palm Springs of the 1930’s. Palm Springs is an hour drive away. Since the city is completely surrounded by the magnificent desert park, urban sprawl and overcrowding will be highly unlikely. A year-round population of almost 3,000 residents increases to about 10,000 when the snowbirds visit each winter.
There isn’t one traffic light in Borrego Springs. There are NO fast-food restaurants! This town is truly a bonafide “middle of nowhere” place to go. I don’t want you to get the idea there is no place to stay, no good restaurants and nothing to do. Quite the opposite is true. You can be as busy as you want to be — have a fortune to spend and spend it lavishly or be on a tight budget and have a wonderful time.
Visitors flock to this area between January and March to see the magical carpet of vibrant desert wildflowers. The quality of each year’s flower display depends on a number of factors, including rainfall, temperature and winds. Typically, the wildflowers begin blooming in January and reach their peak in March. You can actually reach an up-to-date wildflowers recording by calling (760) 767-4684. It takes one trip to the desert after a few rains and you will forever think of it as a special place of beauty.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the lower 48 states and spans across Riverside, Imperial and San Diego Counties. The park, rated by National Geographic magazine as the best state park in California, consists of 500 miles of dirt roads, two wilderness areas (comprising 2/3 of the park) and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails. The park name is derived from a combination of names of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word “borrego,” referring to bighorn sheep.
Borrego Springs is filled with unique overnight destinations. The Borrego Springs Resort offers dramatic views of the Santa Rosa Mountains from The Arches Dining Room and the golf course. The Borrego Valley Inn is a quaint and cozy B&B. Carmelita’s is the place to go for fabulous Mexican food and killer margaritas. If you’re looking for local flavor and a little bit of gossip, check out Carlee’s Bar & Grill.
For those craving a personal outdoor retreat along with a splash of luxury, La Casa Del Zorro is the place to stay. Spending time here is equivalent to wrapping yourself in a warm blanket filled with the quiet serenity of nature. There are hundreds of palm trees, a one-mile scenic walking trail, a fitness center, five guest pools, tennis courts, yoga classes, a labyrinth and dozens of private sitting areas. The resort, first established in 1937, is set in 42 magnificently manicured acres and dotted with deluxe poolside rooms and casitas.
Located off the lobby and overlooking the garden terrace is the Butterfield Dining Room which is exquisite. This is the perfect place to sip a glass of wine while relaxing by the fireplace and pondering the gourmet menu. Their savory continental dishes include Roasted Lamb Rack with Rosemary and Lemon in a rich Bordelaise or Chicken with Sweet Corn and leafy Greens. The signature “Kit Fox” salad is a titillating blend of Hearts of Limestone Lettuce, sections of Grapefruit and Orange, slivers of Medjool Dates, fresh Berries, Jicama, Avocado and Bermuda Onion served with Citrus Vinaigrette. Brace yourself before trying this salad; it may be the best you’ve ever tasted!
The varieties of options for experiencing adventure in this town are limitless. Bike Borrego furnishes detailed maps for checking out renowned animal sculptures designed by “the accidental artist” Richardo Breceda. The visitors’ center is the place to go for information regarding hiking and other desert adventures. Booking a jeep tour for exploring the desert was on the top of our list.
It may seem unlikely that a former New York City ad agency executive and marine biologist would be the least bit interested in owning a jeep touring company in the middle of the desert, but Joe Raffetto was craving peace and quiet and found a welcoming home in Borrego Springs. Soon after moving here, he founded California Overland Desert Tours and has been offering unforgettable experiences ever since.
My friend, DJ and I couldn’t wait to jump into the rugged former military vehicle and fasten our seat belts! We set off to explore endless miles of dirt roads with our trusted tour-guide, Joe. The jeep took us into places that would have been impossible to travel to in a car. We went to the badlands, stood in awe at the base of the majestic mountains and practiced yoga at a place called Clark Well. Joe filled our heads with stories about the history and wonder of this incredible place. The company offers many imaginative overnight camping events, including “Classical Guitar Under the Moon, ”an evening with Michael McCormick and “Camp
Beneath the Stars with Astronomer Scott Baker,” Overnight yoga trips will soon be added.
Borrego Springs is a perfect place to immerse yourself in silence. Conde Nast Traveler editor Wendy Perrin calls this area “a geological wonderland of canyons, badlands, mesas, sand dunes, washes and buttes — and where I came to understand what was meant by purple mountain majesties.”
Ann Nelson is a freelance writer residing in San Diego.
La Casa Del Zorro – Call: (760) 767-0100 or contact: www.lacasadelzorro.com. Special seasonal rates starting at $189 include breakfast.
Borrego Springs Resort & Spa – Call: (760) 767-5700 or contact: www.borregospringsresort.com. Rates start at $129.
California Overland Jeep Tours – Call: (760) 767-1232 or contact: www.californiaoverland.com
Bike Borrego – Call: (760) 767-4255 or contact: www.bikeborrego.com
Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau – Call: (800) 559-5524 or contact: www.BSCVB.com