Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

AnzaBorrego logoCGCI first became involved with Anza Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) in 1969 adopting a resolution to support the Park in a variety of ways.   In the intervening years, individuals, clubs and districts have provided funds, materials and man-power to the park.   However, years of declining budgets and deferred maintenance have left the beautiful desert garden at the Visitor Center in need of serious restoration efforts.
  • What needs to be done?
An old and crumbling irrigation system means some plants have died and need to be replaced, along with many yards of irrigation line and fittings. The Park has many volunteers willing to supply the labor to restore the garden, but funds are needed to buy plants and supplies.

  • How can I help?
    • In June 2012, the CGCI Board of Directors approved a state project to help restore the three-acre Visitor Center Desert Garden. Total estimated project cost: $15,000.
      • $1,000 helps purchase a new pump to provide pressure.
      • $100 buys 100 yards of PVC pipe and fittings.
      • $50 will buy ten (small) desert plants, or 3 larger plants  
    • For more information visit the ABDSP website
The Visitor Center and Desert Garden:
Photo of Anza Borrego visitor center Photo of Anza Borrego garden-1 Photo of Anza Borrego garden-2


  • Julie and Dave West visited Anza-Borrego to see the project needs first hand. Evidence of the broken irrigation system was everywhere with hoses being dragged around to water plants in the desert specimen garden surrounding the state-of-the-art visitor’s center.
  • Take advantage of the cooler months of winter and visit the park. It is well worth it to see for yourself why CGCI’s support is needed for this National Natural Landmark and World Biosphere Reserve located on the eastern side of San Diego County with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County.
  • The visitor’s center includes a short movie about the park that has  an elevation ranging from 6,000 feet to sea level covering 650,000 acres. It is the largest desert state park in the nation and part of  California’s Colorado Desert.  The park is named after Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and did  you know that “borrego” is the Spanish word for  lamb?    
  • The climate at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park distinguishes it from other deserts. The region experiences greater summer  daytime temperatures that range up to 125 degrees than higher elevation deserts and almost never experiences frost.
  • It was 88 degrees on the afternoon  of our visit, February 12, 2014. In addition, it experiences two rainy seasons per year (in the winter and late summer.) If there are wildflowers, March appears to be the best month to view the local flora.
  • Photo of rangersPrehistoric animals once inhabited a part of the present Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, considered to be one of the most important areas of the world for paleontological exploration, according to Dr. Richard   Leakey, world renowned paleontologist and Dr. Morris Skinner, Paleontologist Emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History, New York.   Much has happened during the millions of years since then. The land rose and fell, a lake covered a large area and then disappeared, leaving dried mud which was eventually eroded by wind and water, earthquakes caused slippage and upthrusts, and it is not always quiescent even today.  
  • Indians eventually arrived; remains of their campgrounds and trails still are found, but the white man has long since pushed them out.   Next came the Spaniards looking for a route between   Mexico and San Francisco; then the Mormon Battalion arrived on the same quest; the Butterfield Stage, forty-niners, prospectors and ranchers all passed through, but few settled in this unique region that rises from sea level to about 6,000 feet with its great variety of flora and fauna.
  • This uniqueness was finally recognized as a heritage that should be preserved and so in 1933 the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was dedicated. Because early settlers had already staked claims on the Bureau of Land Management property or purchased land from the Southern Pacific Company, there were parcels (inholdings) left within the park boundary. It is because of these inholdings that the Anza ¬ Borrego Committee has been raising money for their acquisition to help complete the park.   Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California and also the Nation, almost half a million acres that reach from Riverside County to near the Mexican border.
  • When Dr. Henry M. Weber was California Garden Club conservation chairman, a resolution was adopted in 1969 approving the aim of the Anza-Borrego Committee .The first club to contribute a desert garden was the Twenty-nine Palms Garden Club, the first group was Orange County Memorial Garden Center, and the Santa Ana Junior Garden Club was the first junior club. A representative desert garden was dedicated March 28, 1971 at the mouth of Coyote Canyon with actor Gale Gordon, honorary mayor of Borrego Springs, as Master of Ceremonies .   Boy Scout Explorer Unit 613 led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, with William Penn Mott, Jr., Director   of   the   Department of Parks and Recreation, as the principal speaker.     It was a balmy day with the ocotillo forest ablaze with its beautiful red blossoms. Garden club members came to the dedication from as far away as the Bay Area. This was the start of the Walk for Desert Gardens program, which is an annual affair.
  • The Anza-Borrego Committee was formed at the suggestion of Commissioner Margaret Owings, with the Park and Recreation Commission concurring with her idea.   (The committee reports to them annually) There have never been enough State funds to acquire the 68,000 acres of small and large inholdings, so on April 1, 1967 a small group of desert lovers met at the Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park, San Diego to decide how to set up a non-profit group. The Desert Protective Council, Inc. offered to give shelter and has since formed the Anza-Borrego Foundation of the Desert   Protective Council, with twelve trustees.