Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to kick off desert season with fun activities

A sculpture of an eagle and snake by local artist Ricardo Breceda stands menacingly. Karina Ramos Young photo

Just a short drive from Anza lays one of the jewels of Southern California, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Balancing environmental wonders with recreation and popular for its spring wildflower bloom, the park is a favorite among locals throughout the area.

While the wildflowers aren’t in bloom in the fall, there is plenty to do in Anza-Borrego State Park, including camping, hiking and even off-roading in the park’s popular State Vehicular Recreation Center at Ocotillo Wells. Upcoming events include Borrego Days, which launches the California deserts’ season.

For the past 52 years, thousands of people converge on Borrego Springs during Borrego Days to take in the small town charm and wide-open desert wonder in celebration of the launch of the California deserts’ season, which usually begins in the fall as warm daytime temperatures give way to cool, crisp nights. The Borrego Days Desert Festival, whose theme is “Timeless Borrego,” and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park deliver memories and enchantment for all ages.

This year’s Borrego Days, Oct. 20-22, will feature a variety of events culminating with the annual parade through town and a groundbreaking ceremony for the town’s new library, according to Borrego Chamber of Commerce Manager JoAnn Maiter.

“At 9:55 in the morning Saturday, Oct. 21, we kick off the events with the national anthem, which will be followed by race across America at 10 a.m.,” she said.

The X-Corps will perform at 10:15 a.m., followed by go-karts by the Sexton Boys at 10:30 a.m., followed by raising the 60-foot flag at 10:40 a.m.

“You need a hundred people to hold the flag up, it’s amazing,” Maiter said. “That is when we are going to sing ‘God Bless America’ and a medley of American songs.”

After the flag-raising at 10:50 a.m., there will be a flyover by Rick Fordham Borrego Air Ranch, followed by the start of the Borrego Days Parade at 11 a.m. and the groundbreaking for the new library at 12:30 p.m.

“After that everything goes wild,” Maiter said with a laugh.

Other activities include “Pints 4 the Park,” a fundraiser for Anza Borrego Foundation hosted by Borrego Outfitters, Fredericks Ancient & Ethnic Art and Carmelita’s Mexican Grill. Ice cold craft beer in commemorative cups, good eats courtesy of Carmelita’s and music to get people dancing will be flowing in abundance.

The “Pints for the Park” event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. outside Borrego Outfitters, 579 Palm Canyon Drive, Suite E, in Borrego Springs. Tickets are available online at www.theabf.org.

For more information on Borrego Days, including a full schedule of events and sponsorship information, visit www.borregodays.com.

There will be plenty of fun and activities in the park as well, from camping and hiking to presentations on the desert, Anza Borrego Park has visitors covered for plenty of desert fun.

The Emmy award-winning film “Our People, Our Culture, Our History: Sycuan and the Kumeyaay Nation” will be shown Friday, Oct. 20. Produced by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the film presents the story of the people, culture and history of the Kumeyaay in Southern California. The film will be shown at 11 a.m. in the Discovery Lab at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The hourlong walk “Let’s Be Crepuscular” with Interpretive Specialist Regina Reiter makes for an easy walk near the Visitor Center at dusk Friday to explore the fascinating and surprisingly active hour between the day and night. The group will meet in front of the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

Visitors can stop by the paleontology and archaeology laboratories for the open house, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 21, and 9 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Oct. 22. Giving visitors the opportunity to get a look at some of the science that goes on in the park, tours begin at the Visitor Center on the hour and half-hour with a walk to the laboratories.

Guests can once again join Interpretive Specialist Regina Reiter Saturday, Oct. 21, for a sensory exploration of the desert in word and color that will nourish the connection with the rugged beauty of the desert. Be surprised how much keener and richer desert observations are after this hands-on experience. Meet in front of the Visitor Center for this gentle walk, beginning at 5 p.m.

Other upcoming events at the park include Archaeology Weekend, Oct. 28-29, as park visitors can take part in a variety of activities, presentations, tours of the Begole Archaeology Research Center and field trips that all celebrate the cultural history of the park as well as the work conducted by volunteers and staff.

For a full schedule of events at the park, including camping information, visit www.parks.ca.gov or call the park office at (760) 767-5311.

Located at 200 Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs, the park is open from dawn to dusk daily. The visitor center inside the park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bushes of desert sunflower dotted the landscape this past spring at Anza-Borrego State Park. Karina Ramos Young photo

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