Pictures from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

All pictures copyright Tim Hilliard

Native Palm Grove Pictures Other Anza-Borrego Pictures Anza-Borrego Maps Anza-Borrego Links Tim's Travel Page


Anza-Borrego Desert State park, a National-Park-Quality state park in southern California, is one of my favorite places on earth. I go there to escape from the rest of southern CA on my trips there to visit family! I love my family but southern CA's cities drive me nuts and "escapes" to the desert or nearby Mexico really help. I hope to spend a bit of time there in the winter of 2002 to get some new pictures.

The California State Parks Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Web site says: "With over 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest desert state park in the contiguous United States. 500 miles of dirt roads, two huge wilderness areas (comprising 2/3 of the park) and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the Colorado Desert. The park name is derived from a combination of the name of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word "borrego," referring to bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as desert iguanas, chuckwallas and four species of rattlesnake."

The park is the nation's 2nd largest state park and California's biggest. A wide variety of terrain, climates, and landscapes make it especially interesting. Geologically, biologically, anthropologically, and scenically the park is full of attractions. Among them, the many native palm groves (oases) are my favorite attraction.

The palms are Washingtonia filifera, California's only native palm. They are in very common horticultural use in the coastal parts of California (and many other parts of the world) though as native plants they are only found in California and parts of northern Mexico in scattered groves in the desert (although I have heard reports of one or two small groves in Arizona). The groves are full of life, a sort of focal point for the insects, mammals, and birds of the desert. Many have small streams or pools under the palms, and the best have never been burned by accident or vandals.

I also love the landscapes of grainy granitic rock, a sample of which forms the background of this page.

Palm Pictures: 

(click on link or thumbnails for bigger picture)

bw_grove.jpg (55730 bytes)Approaching Bow Willow palms from downstream, about where the going gets a bit tough! 1998 bw_down.jpg (62717 bytes)Looking down into part of Bow Willow palms from the canyon side, showing what a jumble of boulders it is. 1998
texture.jpg (56002 bytes)I love the textures of the skirts of dead palm leaves, here seen in Bow Willow Canyon. 1998 palm.jpg (30259 bytes)Palms in Southwest Grove, near Mountain Palm Springs. Note the full skirts of unburned dead leaves - these represent leaves from the tree's whole life! 1995
light_palm.jpg (44093 bytes)A single palm in Bow Willow Canyon lit by late afternoon light. 1998 bw_falls.jpg (43417 bytes)The top of a nearly hidden young palm (probably about 12 - 14 feet across) gives scale to a waterfall at Bow Willow Palms during a very wet winter. 1998
palm2.jpg (39906 bytes)Here's another part of Southwest Grove. The dense growth in the middle has a nice stream and small pools under it. On the hot winter day I took this picture, the grove was buzzing with bees, hummingbirds, and other life. 1995 palm3.jpg (16560 bytes)This is part of the Pigmy Grove, a somewhat stunted grove with no surface water (and few young palms) near Southwest Grove. These palms have been burned in the past but are growing new small skirts. 1995
palm_pool.jpg (55190 bytes)This little pool at Southwest Grove, Mountain Palm Springs is under a dense growth of palms. I think the mixture of dead and living leaves and light and shadows under the palms makes interesting patterns. 1998 bw_canyon.jpg (43202 bytes)The rocky wilderness of Bow Willow canyon near the lower palms.

Other Desert Pictures:

(click on link or thumbnails for bigger picture)

terote.jpg (52711 bytes)This is a Terote or "Elephant Tree," an odd and almost grotesque desert shrub (or small tree). This one is near Mountain Palm Springs.  1995 terote2.jpg (58762 bytes)Another terote, also near Mountain Palm Springs - this is a close-up of the trunk. 1998
blairv3.jpg (99141 bytes)Flowers carpeting the valley floor of Little Blair Valley, in the spring of 1995. Creosote bush scrub, with Pinyon Mountains in background.   1995 petrog.jpg (44609 bytes)Petrographs near Blair Valley in the central part of the park and another picture of the petrographs. 1996
sunset.jpg (21744 bytes) This is higher country and there are junipers. The tall stick is an agave stalk. 1996 blairv1.jpg (80594 bytes) This is a classic view of the kind of jumbled rock and thorny growth you see on steep slopes at middle altitudes in the park. 1996


For most of these pictures, see 7.5 minute (1:24000) scale USGS quadrangles for "Sweeney Pass CA" and "Sombrero Peak CA." There are a number of other maps USGS quadrangles of Anza-Borrego; see a good index to get an idea of them all. At the 7.5 minute scale, maps that include at least a part of Anza-Borrego include Borrego Palm Canyon, Clark Lake, Fonts Point, Seventeen Palms, Tubb Canyon, Borrego Sink, Borrego Mountain, Shell Reef, Julian, Earthquake Valley, Harper Canyon, Borrego Mountain SE, Monument Peak, Agua Caliente, Arroyo Tapiado, Carrizo Mountain NE, Sombrero Peak, Sweeney Pass, Carrizo Mountain, Jacumba, and In-Ko-Pah Gorge.

The palm pictures are in Mountain Palm Springs (an easily reached group of several groves in southern Anza-Borrego), and in nearby Bow Willow Canyon, a somewhat more strenuous hike. Both areas are near the pleasant (pay) campground at Bow Willow Ranger Station and the primitive (and RV over-run) camp at Mountain Palm Springs.

Anza Borrego Links:

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