san diego east county
Anza Borrego

January to March or April, the wild flowers in Anza-Borrego are just incredible - red ocotillos, orange poppies, purple lavender, lupine and sand verbena, little yellow flowers close to the ground. The desert is also chock full of cactus, including the "jumping cholla." There are palm groves with streams and waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for desert iguanas, roadrunners, hummingbirds, golden eagles and bighorn sheep (borrego means "big horn sheep").

Anza-Borrego is a wonderful place to visit with kids in fall, winter or early spring - it's too hot in summer (the park is closed June - September).

Stop into the Visitor Center for information and exhibits about the natural history and Indians of the area, including a kids' discovery area. The Desert Garden identifies some of the many plants you'll see in the desert. And don't miss the pupfish pond. The silvery pupfish, only 2-3 inches long, survive in the tiny amounts of water in the desert.
Take the Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail to the waterfalls. From the panorama outlook (a longer hike), you can see the Borrego Badlands in the distance. Due to flooding in the canyon, the trail has changed somewhat, so pick up a map at the Visitor Center and get the latest information about the trail.
Scenic drive - Take Route S2 south for a scenic drive and wonderful views of the Badlands.
Agua Caliente Regional Park (on S2) - Stop into Agua Caliente for a soak in two large pools, fed by hot springs (indoor and outdoor swimming pools). There's also a picnic area and children's playground. For easy hikes in the area, try trails to Moonlight Canyon or Squaw Pond.
Go camping - Family camping in Anza Borrego is memorable. You may be out in the desert, but the campgrounds are equipped with showers and a convenience store (in case you need to stock up on marshmallows). Also, the town of Borrego Springs has markets and stores with camping supplies.
Tip: When you're out hiking with kids, take plenty of water, wear hats and sunscreen. Scrambling on rocks, watch where you put your hands - there are rattlesnakes in Borrego, especially around Bow Willow.

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