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 is best known for being “America’s Finest City”, but like most locations, it also has a stranger, darker side, built on speculation, myths, rumors, and legends. With Halloween just around the corner, along with the shorter days and cooler nights of fall, now is a great time to explore these thirteen locations to search for monsters, ghosts, aliens, and whatever else may be out there. I’ve compiled this list from my experience and from what “evidence” is present in the public domain about these spots. I’ve subjectively ranked the spots from “most active” to “least active”, or for the skeptical readers out there, from “most credible” to “least credible”. Irrespective of how you feel about the supernatural, this is a great list of San Diego locations that add historic flavor to a fine city that are worth a visit.
San Diego is a hiker’s mecca. From the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve on the Coast, to the city’s highest point at Cowles Mountain, and through the East County trails of Iron Mountain and El Cajon Mountain, there is literally a hike for every person, and for every skill level. In addition to all of these trails, and the thousands more I didn’t mention, San Diego is also a great location for overnight camping, from backpacking to car-camping and everything in between. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been lucky enough to explore much of San Diego’s backcountry in a number of ways, and am thrilled to be working with Expedia.com on this article to recommend some of the best overnight wilderness hiking areas. While overnight wilderness activities have innumerable perks, the locations within the confines of San Diego allow visitors the added benefit of a little extra wilderness solitude to recover from the hustle and bustle of everyday Southern California life. The locations listed below provide a great starting point for overnight wilderness activities in the County, and hopefully provide inspiration for many nights in some of the most pristine backcountry that can be found in Southern California.
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.
One of the little known facts about San Diego is that to locals it not only has its own “Half Dome” (Corte Madera Peak) but also its own “El Capitan” – El Cajon Mountain. While both of these peaks share a type of rock with the original mountains – exfoliated granite – and provide both hiking and climbing opportunities, the similarities end there. The more well-known fact about El Cajon Mountain, however, is that it is the “toughest” hike in San Diego County.
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.