Thursday, May 31, 2012

camping in anza-borrego

Last week we decided we would go camping in the Anza-Borrego desert for Memorial Day weekend. I have been wanting to go camping there for a while, and our previous plans for the weekend fell through. Unfortunately, there was a fire right near the area that I wanted to camp, at Blair Valley. The Banner Fire is now contained...but as of Friday it was only at 20% containment and the road leading to Blair Valley, county road S-2, had been closed right around the fire area. County road S-2 is also called The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849...which is the name I like to use just because it takes such a long time to say :-) 
Anyway, I researched some other campgrounds in the desert...and came across Bow Willow Campground. It's on the same road that was closed, but much further South. 
So, Saturday morning we headed East on I-8 until we reached Ocotillo.

 When you get to Ocotillo, you get off and turn left on Imperial highway...aka county road S-2...aka The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 :-) It seems to be newly paved at this point.
 The turn-off for Bow Willow is so poorly marked that you would nearly miss it. After driving on this road later the next day, I figured out that this is the case with pretty much every campsite or point of interest around here. Teeny tiny little brown signs, placed low to the ground, and about a foot or two before where you need to turn off. So if you've had time to read and comprehend the sign, you've probably missed your turn!
 The road to Bow Willow. Only about a mile or two on this sandy road.
 The campsites are really nice here...each one has a pergola, picnic table, and fire ring. We picked a spot that was farthest away from the bathrooms and other people :-)

Cholla cactus. These things hurt!

 We took the dogs on a hike nearby before dinner...we let them loose when we saw that there were no other people around. They didn't seem to mind the heat at all and went crazy as usual :-)

 Ocotillo plants. Technically not cactus, but they are just as prickly.
 The view.
 More cholla.
A close-up of an Ocotillo.

Cholla...these things are so weird, they seem to jump out at you and stick to you. This one got stuck to my toe, and Bandit got one stuck to his side! Thankfully his fur is thick enough and it didn't pierce his skin.

Shasta really blends in with the desert!

The beginning of sunrise, Sunday morning.
There is a reason I was up before 5:30 to see the sun rise...I did not sleep. I'm not exaggerating, either, I literally did not sleep at all. It was a combination of being in a two person tent with four bodies in it, dogs panting like crazy because it was hot in the tent, and us forgetting to bring our pillows :( Eventually the dogs got let outside in the middle of the night, but even after that I could not sleep. Every half hour or so, I was actually checking the sky to see if daylight was coming so I could just get up and not lay there trying to sleep! It finally did...

Sunrise over the campground.
Clint was up not too much longer after me...he got some sleep, but not much at was an uncomfortable night for everyone. So, after making some much-needed coffee and eating breakfast, we packed up and headed home. We knew we wouldn't be in good shape to do much exploring or hiking that day. 
We plan to go back though...there are some really cool things out there that are just begging to be explored :-)


  1. That looks like a really neat place to camp. Sorry you had no sleep. :( Thank goodness you didn't have to work Monday!

  2. That looks like such an amazing place!! That desert is on our list of places to explore, for sure. If we can afford to get our Rover down there, ha. Ok, not really that funny. Darn gas. A bad night's sleep camping is a bummer--but your sunrise pictures are spectacular!! ALL of your pictures are.

    1. It really is beautiful out there! You'll have to spend a small fortune in gas but I'm sure it'd be worth it :-) I'd like to go in the spring...they say March is the best time to go if you want to see the wildflowers.