Anza-Borrego Desert STATE PARK

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last updated on April 28, 2000
Too bad - after 10 years in physical oceanography and multiple sea trips I realized that I'd rather go to the desert...
Too good - it's only an hour and half driving away from our home. There's plenty of things to do - four-wheeling, biking, hiking, camping, or just sitting down quietly and listening to the wind.
Our means of conquering the rough terrain - 1979 Jeep Cherokee Chief Wide track, with all of her 360 cubic inches of engine, 31 inch tires, factory brush guard (buys some calmness when kids got to steer the beast), TH-400 gear box (no, that's not the clutch that smells), Borg-Warner 1305 Quadra-Trac transfer case with 2.72 low range- converted to part time operation (not too much snow in San Diego to plow), nice saggin' springs for Caddy-like ride and Bilstein shocks to calm the boat :-) Now she's got some minor upgrades, like MSD Blaster ignition coil, Dick Cepek fog lights, and 2" lift in the rear (barely recouped the loss from sagging springs).
Well, sometimes the Big Yellow Jeep needs something to be fixed. For those occasions we've got a "reliable means of transportation" - if that label can ever be slapped on a jeep. That's a '95 stripper XJ Cherokee, with only power items being brakes and steering (well, even Civics come that way now). Engine... Oh well, it's rather like a starter motor for the Big Yellow - 2.5 liter four-banger. Not that it's powerless, on the highway she runs like a champ no matter slope or elevation, but torque isn't included as an option. It only happens once, a hair shy of redline. Sometimes it is funny to watch how your passenger almost bangs his head agains the windshield when you're late with upshift.
Oriflamme Canyon - view from Mason Valley Truck Trail. There's some nice, steep, and long slope on the right (and forward, too, though not exactly as steep), which suggests you to drag the column shifter all the way clockwise and yank that low-range lever from dusty carpet. Here are my kids scouting around; this time, very little biking was involved.
When we got down with some minor screaming from the kids, and fortunately missed all the oncoming traffic (still, don't know if it's a one-way road - can anybody update me on that?), the fun time began. That nice two-feet tall boulder gave a nice check on articulation. Note that the left rear wheel sits in a hole washed in sand. No bigger rocks on our way towards S-2 highway; kids got their small share of driving. That's nice to have a brush guard sometimes ...
 Couldn't pass this one on - most vegetation on this slope was gone after a brush fire - but nature wins!

 About 0.8 mile north of Oriflamme Canyon entrance from S-2, there's Box Canyon historical site. Besides its historical value, it is a nice short hike - I always stop there when I take somebody new to Anza-Borrego. Some hundred yards from the parking there's a wash with a stone walls like this one (getting taken over by the kids). There's a couple caves in that wall to hide (from rain maybe?)

Ocotillo - photographers' delight
Something that I have yet to see - desert bloom at night. I am very grateful to Klaus-Peter Zauner for pointing out this photograph, made by Li-Mei Chang in Spring of 1998, and her kind permission to use the pictures. This is ocotillo cactus, frequent in Anza-Borrego desert. Above and below are two other photos from the same source.
That's the trail I'd love to go in Anza-Borrego, but I guess I wouldn't make it in my Jeep. The place is called "The Squeeze" and is barely six feet wide (left). Immediately after that point (this is one-way route) 4-lo is said to be necessary. I wish I knew where did I get this picture from to give the author all the credit, but... Just found another nice picture of that rock, with some detailed description - check Ecological 4-wheeling Adventures - Pinyon Mountain , by Warren Fox (right)

Trail reports
Coyote Canyon, 1/16/1999, with Pete Griffith - my rendition
Coyote Canyon, 1/16/1999 - Pete Griffith's account
Oriflamme Canyon, 1/16/2000 - with Albert Metzel
Split Mountain, with Albert Metzel
Truckhaven Hills - with Pete Griffith

There's quite a few web sites devoted - or mentioning - Anza-Borrego Desert; you may want to check'em out.

No kiddin', huh?

Anza-Borrego - a bit of everything
Some history of Anza-Borrego Desert by Richard F. Pourade
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - too much to list
DesertUSA info site
No time for Real Desert Experience? "Substitute Reality" - postcards and such.
Borrego Springs - Looks like Real
Borrego Springs - Cooler than Real
Klaus-Peter Zauner homepage - some very nice photos of desert bloom
Some very nice photos, including a HUMMVEE :-)
MVRC Spring Trip Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Cycling in Anza Borrego State Park (mid-westerners' experience)
San Diego Off-Road Coalition - Anza-Borrego Desert

Here's just some of them - I know for sure of many others but too lazy to check'em out....

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All materials and images presented on these pages © 1999, Peter Matusov, unless indicated otherwise