Although winter and spring are the primary visitation seasons in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park®, many visitors come to the Park for reasons directly tied to the summer months. Whether looking for the experience of extreme heat or the thrill of fabulous night skies, visitors can have a great time in the desert in summer if they come prepared and know what to expect. (lead photo by Kevin Key)
Be Summer Safe & Ready
There are two main things to consider if you are planning to explore the desert in summer: Heat and Water. Because there are fewer visitors, if something happens you will most likely be on your own until you reach safety or help reaches you. Cell phones do not work in many areas of the Park, so be sure you tell someone when you leave, where you’re going, and when you expect to return.
Most summer days are too warm to safely go on long hikes. Any daytime exploration on foot should be done as early in the morning as possible and finished by 10am in order to avoid the highest temperatures of the day. If you do find yourself heading out and about in the mornings, be sure you have at least a gallon of water per person for a 3-mile hike, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and pants for sun protection, and sturdy shoes. Ground temperatures can be 20 degrees warmer than air temperatures, so it’s a good idea to leave your pet at home to prevent the burning of their paw pads. One thing to consider is that the nights are cooler and offer great views of Anza-Borrego’s dark night skies. Did you know Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® was named an International Dark Sky Park in 2018? Scroll down for a list of nighttime activities to enjoy!
Water is your most precious resource in the desert. In summer, the importance of that resource goes up exponentially. Our friends at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® put together a handy tool to figure out just how much water you should be taking with you when you’re out for a hike in summer. Most important tip about water: drink it, don’t save it for later. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Other Safety Measures:
-Always have a first aid kit with you. Desert additions to a standard first aid kit include a comb to remove cactus, instant ice packs, and electrolyte powder.
-Always take extra water with you. Just throw a gallon of water in your trunk. That way it’s there whenever you might need it.
-If your vehicle breaks down, STAY WITH IT. From the air, a plane can spot a vehicle much more easily than it can spot a person. That vehicle will also provide you with important shade.
Information Resources in Summer:
All park rules and regulations apply in summer. It is your responsibility to know these rules and regulations.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® Visitor Center Summer Hours- Open Weekends & Holidays, 9am-5pm (starts June 1)
Colorado Desert District Headquarters Office- Open Monday through Friday, 9am-4pm
Anza-Borrego Foundation State Park Store- Friday through Tuesday, 10am-3pm (starts May 1)
*The Coyote Canyon Seasonal Closure begins June 1. No travel (foot, vehicle, or bike) is allowed from Second Crossing all the way to the top of the canyon in order to protect summer access to water for wildlife.*
What to do at night in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park®:
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® is located within an hour and a half of Palm Springs, San Diego, and El Centro, but the mountains and varied landscapes between the Park and those population centers keep the light pollution to a minimum. Borrego Springs is an International Dark Sky Community and, as of January 2018, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® is designated as an International Dark Sky Park. Our dark night skies draw stargazers, professional and amateur astronomy enthusiasts, space photographers, and night sky photographers from all over the world. The Perseid Meteor Shower in August is always a big draw for night sky lovers, and there are many other sky events that happen during the summer season. Here’s a list of activities and resources for nighttime fun in Anza-Borrego:
-Get a downloadable sky map and list of monthly night sky happenings at Skymaps.com
-Check our events calendar for any night sky interpretive activities offered by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park®
-Go on a nighttime search for scorpions! Did you know they glow under a blacklight at night? Don’t have a blacklight? It’s okay, we’ve got them at the State Park Store and Visitor Center Store!
-Stop in or call to find out road conditions to some of the best night sky areas in the Park
There is so much to do and see in Anza-Borrego! There are more lizards and snakes out and about in the heat of the summer, and the desert takes on a much more relaxed atmosphere with fewer visitors around. Come visit us in summer!