Every desert has its share of strange and quirky spots, where the past lies forgotten, or where the present has interposed itself. The Anza-Borrego Desert is no different, with abandoned mines, old rail history at the Dos Cabezas station and Goat Canyon Trestle, and a plethora of other mysterious items. Near the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves, are two spots where the past and the present intersect. First, is the Palm Spring - not to be confused with the town called “Palm Springs” by any stretch of the imagination. The Palm Spring was a seasonal water source that was a stop for the Butterfield Stage Line, and various other nineteenth and twentieth century desert explorers. Today, the small stand of vegetation is the spot of a California Historical Marker, and at times, some water (when I last visited in fall 2017, there was no water to be found).
A little further down the wash from this point is a metal sign affixed to a slight hill bearing the words, “Hollywood” and “Vine” from the famous Los Angeles intersection. As nothing is around this area for tens of miles, the sign is an oddity - and one that now looks like something from a big-budget Hollywood movie about a future apocalypse. While the current metal sign is relatively new (despite being in place for a long time), it is one of many signs dating back to 1895 that were placed in the desert by James A. Jasper, a county supervisor for San Diego. Jasper’s iron signs had relevant information, such as distances to water and other towns, but for unknown reasons, the sign at this location was repainted with the current street names. While the original iron sign is long gone, the joke has endured - and remains a spectacle even today.
Directions: Both destinations are off of the S-2 inside Anza-Borrego State Park, right near Mile Marker 43. Mile Marker 43 is also well-marked as the “Palm Spring” turnout on both sides. From the turnout, there is no maintained road so visitors will have to plan accordingly on whether they feel their vehicle can handle the off-road terrain. While there are no obstacles, such as high boulders, or other drops that would absolutely require a 4WD/AWD vehicle, there are many patches of soft sand that could be treacherous for standard transmission cars. Given the relatively remote nature of these spots, the fact that temperatures in the Anza-Borrego Desert regularly reach into triple digits year-round, and that the area does not have reliable cellular phone coverage, visitors should proceed with caution if they do not have high clearance or 4WD/AWD. Palm Spring is three miles from the road, and is marked with a turnoff. To see the Hollywood & Vine sign, visitors will want to head back to the main wash from Palm Spring and drive another mile, or head four miles down the wash from the road.
Tips: There is an excellent campsite behind the hill that the Hollywood & Vine sign is at, with a pre-made firering.