Anza-Borrego Desert State Park & Imperial Sand Dunes
Over New Years weekend my husband and I went on a mini road trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park and Imperial Sand Dunes. I’ve been wanting to check this area out for a few years now. Dogs aren’t allowed on trails at the State Park though and it’s around 3 hours from where I live. I needed a dog sitter, which I don’t have. My sister was visiting so we were able to go for the weekend.
As for the state park, it was very beautiful. I was surprised by the size and diversity of the park. It’s the largest state park in California. However, it is also extremely spaced out and confusing. The park has very minimal facilities and infrastructure. Most of the roads are dirt (you need 4 wheel drive), hardly any restrooms, and very limited signage and maps. I suggest doing thorough research before visiting if you have a limited amount of time. I didn’t realize how confusing it would be. I doesn’t help that there is limited cell service in that area as well. Some parking areas also charge $10 and may only accept cash. Luckily we had $10.01 on hand, mostly in change. We were so lucky!
We hiked a total of 3 trails. We couldn’t do much more than that with my little car and limited time. My favorite trail was the slot canyon trail (The Slot). I have been in slot canyons before but this one was a very tall and a long canyon. It was truly impressive. If you don’t have a lot of time or are just passing through, I recommend you stop and do that trail. We hiked a bit of a different canyon trail but I’m not sure the name of it. The other really nice trail we went on was Borrego Palm Canyon. That is about 3 miles. We saw some big horned sheep along the way. It’s always exciting to see animals while hiking. Two of them were ramming their horns together. I think that trail was definitely worth it too.
On the second day we drove out to the Imperial Sand dunes. The dunes themselves are incredible. They are so much more expansive than I would have guessed. It’s very hard to tell from maps and photos. Again, this place is super remote and has no facilities. Sadly, it is mainly used for ATVs and dune buggies, etc. There didn’t seem to be many places you could go to just run around the dunes without worrying about getting run over. That aspect really bothers me. I think it would be nice if part of the dunes was accessible to people without the vehicles. There was really only one spot to park and we kind of just stumbled upon it. Overall it’s just a very confusing area but super beautiful. I really think this entire area of the state seems to just be kind of taken over by 4×4’s and little vehicles like that. It’s a missed opportunity for nature lovers. Don’t get me wrong, i’m so glad we went and it’s worth a visit, but it’s a bit disappointing in that way.