From the Salton Sea to the east, and the expanse between near the Mexican border to the south and the Santa Rosa National Monument to the north, Anza-Borrego State Park has a number of interesting geologic features that can be seen with a little effort. Some, like Font’s Point require at times, four wheel drive to visit, but have a great payoff in terms of sunrise and sunset. Others, like the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves require both four wheel drive, and a willingness to explore and adventure. Out of all of these locations, none is more accessible than Clark Dry Lake Bed.
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, however, 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).
San Diego County, as a whole, has many stunning spots to watch the sun rise, and sun set. In my personal opinion, many of the best spots to watch the sun set are along the Pacific Ocean (such as Broken Hill at Torrey Pines State Reserve). Out of all of these locations, however, the most distinctive to watch both the sun set and sun rise is unquestionably Font’s Point, in the middle of Anza-Borrego State Park. The spot is named for Pedro Font, who was a Franciscan priest who traveled through the area on the Anza Expedition of 1775, and was the first European to write in detail about the Anza-Borrego Desert. At 1,253 feet of elevation, Font’s Point towers over the whole of the Anza-Borrego Desert, and is visible from a majority of locations in Anza-Borrego State Park.
San Diego is a city that in many respects is unparalleled for its outdoor and wilderness opportunities. Within the confines of the county there is terrain that ranges from coastal to alpine, and covers everything in between. While much of the coastal wilderness areas are well known to locals and visitors alike, one of the wilderness gems of San Diego is not as well known, the Laguna Mountains.
One of the many strange things to be found out in the Anza-Borrego Desert are the ruins of the Dos Cabezas Railroad Station. The station was part of the El Centro to San Diego railroad line, which was completed in 1919. Construction on this section of line was first deemed "impossible", but the line was completed and used through most of the twentieth century. The Dos Cabezas station provided a watering stop for the steam engines; and a place for explorers and miners to access the rail line.
Anza-Borrego State Park is one of the hidden gems of Southern California. While it does not have the notoriety of Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, or the Mojave National Preserve; it does have abandoned mines, long-lost nineteenth century stagecoach stations, a mountain with a cabin atop it, petroglyphs, the best mud caves in North America, the largest free standing railroad trestle, and much more, including strange myths and legends. It also is home to "the Slot", a little known but excellent short hike that has become one of my favorite hikes in the park.