Photo: Christina Kamme


The desert is a wonderful place for children to explore, learn about their world, and gain self-confidence. Listed below are areas of the Park that are great for families hiking with children. For more information about the Park’s hiking trails, check out the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park magazine!

Borrego Palm Canyon Trail
This trail is a favorite, and for good reason—children able to hike the three-mile roundtrip are rewarded with a palm oasis complete with water! Be on the lookout for lizards, listen for canyon wrens—many visitors even spot bighorn sheep! To make a loop hike, try going up on the Alternate Trail (it starts near the campfire center) and coming down on the main trail.

Mountain Palm Springs
A longer loop hike lets you visit several palm groves, each unique in its own way. If you’re feeling especially rugged, take a side trip to Torote Bowl to check out the Elephant Trees!

Entrance to Font’s Wash
Drive in a few hundred yards or park along the highway and walk in. Let the kids roam the arroyo and gentle sandy slopes. Lizards, beetles, coyote tracks, and creosote bushes will amaze any child.

Split Mountain and Fish Creek Wash
The sandy wash-bottom adjacent to the towering cliffs is ideal for short walks and exploring. Rock wrens, lizards, armored beetles, and bighorn sheep tracks can be discovered here. Older children will enjoy the wind caves, which are at the end of a 1-mile gently climbing trail.

San Felipe Wash at Tamarisk Grove
Park along the roadway outside the campground and walk in the wide wash behind the camps. Walk east to a wide open arroyo with an interesting smoke tree and desert willow forest. Watch for cactus wrens, ravens, lizards and coyote tracks.

Vallecito Wash
The area south of Palm Spring is wide and open, making it a safe place for energetic children. Just walk off away from the dirt road and the kids can follow the trails of jackrabbits and coyotes. Smoke trees and desert willows offer shade.

Precautions: Be sure to bring water and sun protection when you head out for your hike. Before letting kids explore on their own, some cautions are in order. Explain to children that they should not put their hands under rocks or into crevices without looking first. Show them a cactus and remind them that even the slightest touch may fill a hand with spines.

Check with the Visitor Center for current road conditions 760-767-4205.

Junior Ranger programs are held at the Visitor Center every Saturday morning from November through April, 10–11 a.m., and are free of charge.

Anza-Borrego Foundation is a proud supporter of:

The California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights

1. Discover California’s past
2. Splash in the water
3. Play in a safe place
4. Camp under the stars
5. Explore nature
6. Learn to swim
7. Play on a team
8. Follow a trail
9. Catch a fish
10. Celebrate their heritage

These are all things that every child should have the opportunity to experience and many can be undertaken right here in Anza-Borrego!