The Magic of Borrego Springs
By Ann Nelson



Borrego Springs, a quiet little town located on the desert floor of Anza-Borrego Desert is surrounded by the 600,000-acre Borrego Desert State Park. This peaceful community located approximately 80 miles northeast of San Diego and 170 miles southwest of Los Angeles is often compared with the Palm Springs of the 1930’s. Palm Springs is only an hour drive from Borrego Springs. Since the city is completely surrounded by the magnificent desert park, urban sprawl and overcrowding will be highly unlikely. The year-round population of 3,000 resident increases to about 10,000 when the snowbirds visit each winter.

Actually, there isn’t one traffic light in Borrego Springs. There are NO fast-food restaurants! This town is truly a bonafide “middle of nowhere” place to go. I don’t want you to get the idea there is no place to stay, no good restaurants and nothing to do. Quite the opposite is true. You can be as busy as you want to be — have a fortune to spend, and spend it lavishly, or be on a tight budget, and have a wonderful time.

Visitors flock to this area between January and March to see the magical carpet of vibrant desert wildflowers. The quality of each year’s flower display depends on a number of factors, including rainfall, temperature, and winds. Typically, the wildflowers begin blooming in January and reach their peak in March. You can actually reach an up-to-date wildflowers recording by calling (760) 767-4684. All it takes is one trip to the desert after a few rains and you will forever think of it as a special place of beauty.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the lower 48 states. The park consists of 500 miles of dirt roads, two huge wilderness areas (comprising 2/3 of the park), and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails. The park name is derived from a combination of the names of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word “borrego”, referring to bighorn sheep.

Our first night in the desert, my husband and I decided to stay at the “Four-Diamond” AAA-rated La Casa Del Zorro Resort. The resort is set in 42 magnificently manicured acres and dotted with deluxe poolside rooms and casitas. All of the casitas have fireplaces, a private pool, and/or spa. Describing the experience of staying in a place like this is almost hard to put into words. There’s so much to say, there’s so much to do. The question is, where do you start? Actually, my husband and I decided to start by doing nothing. Gary lit a fire in the fireplace (with real wood), and I headed off to take a bath in one of the longest and most luxurious bathtubs I’ve ever seen. A seven-foot man could fit in this one, and I’m not kidding!

After soaking in the tub, and relaxing by the fireplace, we were ready for dinner. It was a short and wonderful walk to the Butterfield Dining Room that is located right off the lobby, and overlooking the Rose Garden. The Butterfield Restaurant has won the “Award of    Excellence 2006” by ‘Wine Spectator Magazine’. From the tens of thousands of restaurants in the United States, only hundreds have earned this award. Our dinners were simply delicious. The dessert, which I decided not to share with my husband, ranks as one of my favorites. I remember exactly what it looked like, what it felt like, what it smelled like and what it tasted like. The dessert was called “Because it’s Chocolate Trio”. It consisted of three parts: a warm Heath Bar brownie, a white chocolate mousse bombe, and a chocolate Haagen-Dazs milkshake. I don’t think I need to say anything else about the dessert. You’ll have to imagine it for yourself!

Before we had dinner, my husband and I promised ourselves we would take a stretch class in the morning with instructor Kenny Waf. We wanted to learn something new so we decided to take archery lessons. Our teachers were both pros. After classes, I thought, if only I could spend a month here! There are three pools, tennis courts, bicycles, and a state-of-the-art gym. I’d be in perfect condition, if only I had the strength to forgo the chocolate dessert that I knew was only a short walk away.

The Palms at Indian Head is another favorite place to stay in Borrego Springs. Back in the 1950’s, this 20-acre resort was known as The Old Holberg Resort. Clark Gable, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe were regular visitors. A water-heater triggered fire burned the resort to the ground years ago. Until the present owners Cynthia Woods and Dave Leibert came along in 1993, purchased the property, and waved their magic wand, the building was used as a school for handicapped children, a detention home for juvenile offenders, and a nudist camp. The Palms at Indian Head is a work in progress, and located in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the valley.

My husband and I walked to the visitor’s center and hiked through the beautiful Palm Canyon from our room. We didn’t need a car! Our first evening at the resort we had dinner at The Krazy Coyote Saloon and Grille, a fabulous gourmet restaurant located on the property. The small, cozy restaurant offers a stunning view of the gardens and the most beautiful Olympic size pool I’ve ever seen. The quaintness of this place helped my husband and me to instantly relax. Our steaks were perfect, and again, the dessert was fabulous. Vanilla ice cream topped with shredded coconut and chocolate!

If you’re considering a long-term stay and have an RV, you may want to consider checking out The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course. Everything you could possibly need is available.

More than anything else, my husband and I felt this special place is simply a place to stop and immerse yourself in silence. A quote from Conde Nast Traveler editor Wendy Perrin sums it up well. Perrin calls the area “a geological wonderland of canyons, badlands, mesas, sand dunes, washes and buttes — and where I came to understand what was meant by “purple mountain majesties”.

Ann Nelson is a freelance writer, presently residing in San Diego, California.



The Palms at Indianhead
(800) 519-2624
Rates start at $169.00 a night. Summertime rates are less.

La Casa Del Zorro Desert Resort 
(800) 824-1884
Rates start at $365.00 a night. Summertime rates are less.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course
(866) 330-0003
Rates start at $42.00 a night.

Anza-Borrego Institute
(760) 767-4063

Anza-Borrego Foundation
(760) 767-0446

Borrego Springs
Chamber of Commerce
(800) 559-5524


Return to the March/April Index page