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Otherworldly desert paradiseOtherworldly desert paradise

Borrego Springs, CaliforniaBorrego Springs, California

For someone unfamiliar with the desert, Borrego Springs, California, is like traveling to another world. Surrounded by the 600,000 acres of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Santa Rosa Mountains, Borrego Springs boasts an authentic desert experience.

Horse sculptures fashioned by metal artist Ricardo Breceda dot the California desert as it unfolds near the Santa Rosa Mountains on the road to Borrega Springs. Photo by David Tulis.

Borrego Valley Airport boasts a 5,000-foot paved runway, and the approach brings you across the desert, which to the uninitiated feels like the craters of the moon. The white, sandy landscape is dotted with scrubby bushes and tumbleweeds; boulders along the mountains near Julian are like mounds of underbaked chocolate-chip cookies. It’s a landscape like no other made even more amazing in the spring when the wildflowers and cacti bloom.

From Borrego Valley Airport, drive the scenic and thrilling Montezuma Valley Road (S-22) through rock formations, rugged canyons, and twisting hairpin turns; see views of nearby Salton Sea from vistas as high as 3,400 feet. In the state park, you’ll be amazed to find an animal kingdom made of metal. Artist Ricardo Breceda has created more than 130 metal sculptures of animals and other fanciful creatures that dot the landscape. Real animals such as bighorn sheep and exotic birds can also be found here.

Borrego Springs is an international dark sky community. This means that there are light restrictions at night so that star-gazing parties and astronomy nights are commonplace, especially from June through August. There is only one traffic light in the whole city.

On 42 acres outside of Borrego Springs is La Casa del Zorro (home of the fox), a historic hotel and spa that was first established in 1933. It is the classic Southern California resort with hand-hewn wood beams and adobe walls. It was a property of newspaper magnate James Copley (The San Diego Union-Tribune) starting in 1960 and was a meeting place of political figures such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and many famous Hollywood personalities. It fell into disrepair after Copley’s death but was renovated in 2013. There are 44 luxury rooms, four garden rooms, and 19 private casitas with private swimming pools, two dining rooms, a one-mile walking path, five tennis courts, and a full-service spa.

Borrego Springs Airport is just five miles from La Casa del Zorro and offers complimentary transportation.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
Topics: Travel, US Travel

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