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Blooming Anza Borrego Desert
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Blooming Anza Borrego Desert
  California Travel Event ( Press Release )

San Diego's Amazing Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Where Wildflowers Bloom in the Spring
Anza Borrego Desert, California, USA: Deserts, with their subtle colors and uncluttered space, encourage visitors to discover natural wonders and archeological remains of ancient human habitation hidden in plain sight. Such wonders and remains abound in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California's largest state-protected nature spot and San Diego County's 600,000-acre gift to bird watchers, naturalists, amateur archeologists and families who come to see the desert bloom in the spring.
More than a million guests a year visit the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to explore its unusually varied landscapes and to hike and ride its extensive network of trails on foot, bicycle and horseback. Jeep tours and camping hikes can be booked in the neighboring town of Borrego Springs which also offers 18-hole golf courses, tennis facilities, fine restaurants and accommodations ranging from bread & breakfast inns to luxury resorts.
Each spring, the unbelievable is commonplace in this unique State Park, where delicate flowers that one would not expect to survive the harsh desert environment suddenly burst into brilliant-hued blooms with no more encouragement than a few winter rains.
The Anza- Borrego's most popular event, this springtime wildflower display transforms its rugged landscape into a vivid competition of colors and textures, as blood-red buds explode on bushes right next to clusters sporting translucent white and pink petals and wispy yellow flowers snuggle up to their hardy cactus and sage guardians. While the Park is popular with visitors during all but the hottest months, there is no doubt that its main event is the wildflower bash, which puts the ever-growing number of visitors into a festive mood, year after year.
The blooming period can last from two to six weeks, depending upon the timing and quantity of winter rains, and usually starts in mid-March. A Wildflower Hotline helps travelers plan their visit with periodically updated, recorded information about the most likely viewing dates, at (760) 767-4684. What's more, guests who wish to be notified by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park two weeks before those dates, can now send a self-addressed, stamped postcard with their query to WILDFLOWERS, 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA 92004. Updated estimates are also posted on the Park's Web site, www.anzaborrego.statepark.org.
A living geological and natural history museum, the Anza-Borrego is a place of timeless beauty filled with the fascinating shapes of 540-million-year-old rocks, fossils and rare plants. Also astonishing are its climatic and topographical variations, which range from elevations of 3,900 feet with annual rainfalls topping 35 inches, to arid canyon floors barely 650-feet above sea level, where plants and wildlife survive on less than three inches of rain a year.
In fact, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park distinguishes seven geographic and geologic regions, each identified by unique features, such as the Borrego Badlands, with its four-million-year-old geological and paleontological history encapsulated in fossilized life forms and petrified clusters of sand, clay and mud. Many of this area's trails were first trekked by native tribes, and later by Kit Carson and the gold prospectors of 1849.
Proximity and easy access make the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located just two hours from downtown San Diego via California's State Highway 78 and Interstate 8, a favorite camping destination for the region's visitors and residents alike. Two of the Park's 12 campgrounds provide RV hookups and three others offer fresh water, showers and flush toilets. Five campsites for groups of 9-24 persons can be found in Borrego Palm Canyon, where reservations must be made six months in advance and stay is limited to seven days. The fee is $32 per group.
For campers with horses, the Vernon Whitaker Horse Camp features 10 sites, just eight miles north of Borrego Springs. Each site holds up to eight people and four horses. Forty corrals, water, flush toilets, solar heated showers and fire rings are available and the fee is $17. Reservations for campsites are recommended, year-round. For more information and reservations, call toll-free (800) 444-PARK.
Anza-Borrego is one of the few places in San Diego County where camping is allowed outside designated campgrounds. But since some of these more rugged locations are only suited for "primitive camping," because of the need to protect native plants and to preserve the contours of the land, access by vehicles is limited to just a few feet off the nearest road. Campers, however, may tour the nearby areas by car on several 4x4 routes, or on mountain bikes, horseback or foot.
Most of the park's facilities are accessible to wheelchairs, including the Palm Canyon campground, popular for its spring-fed stand of some 1,000 desert palms. For more comprehensive information about the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including maps, books about its flora, fauna and history, and an informative 15-minute slide show and exhibits about this unique desert environment, guests can stop by the Visitor Center, located one mile west of Borrego Springs on Palm Canyon Drive. The center is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., until June 1.
Next to the Visitor Center is the Edith Meyerson Nierenberg Plaza, an 80-seat outdoor interpretive facility used for educational programs and as a fine vantage point from which to view the desert panorama. The Plaza also features an exhibition area with displays on paleontology, zoology, archaeology and geology.
Ranger-guided Nature Tours are available daily to visitors during winter and spring, and include lectures about the area's history, flora (there are more than 600 species of cacti, palms and other desert plants) and fauna. On duty year-round and always ready to assist visitors with finding spaces for tents, cars and trailers, park rangers are also available for campfire discussions on topics ranging from desert birds to Indian lore. Rangers, too, are the ones most likely to spot one of the region's few remaining bighorn sheep (the Borrego, which gave the Park its name) climbing nimbly among the giant boulders and steep cliffs high above the trail.
The Anza-Borrego Foundation, a local desert conservation group, also offers numerous free field programs during peak season (January-March) for visitors to explore and learn more about the State Park and surrounding area. Field excursion themes include archeology, bighorn sheep, plant diversity, wildflowers, petroglyphs and military history. For reservations, visit www.theabf.org.
La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort, one of the area's popular accommodation properties, offers off-road, four-wheel drive eco-tours of Anza-Borrego. The tour programs, sanctioned by the Park and managed by the park's former staff naturalist, include the "Desert Sampler," "Split Mountain," "Borrego Badlands," "Butterfield History," "Carrizo Badlands," "Sandstone Canyon" and "Salton Sea." Cost is $75 per person for a half-day tour and $150 for a full-day. Full-day tours include lunch. Tours start and end at La Casa del Zorro. www.lacasadelzorro.com
Other exciting guided tours and desert programs are provided by such outfits as:
* Out of the Ordinary-Group Adventures offers challenging options for groups of up to 50 people, such as desert mountain biking and llama treks. www.groupadventures.com
* San Diego Outback Tours offers scenic drives on desert highways in unique military vehicles, and nature hikes through rugged desert terrain outside of the State Park. www.desertjeeptours.com
* San Diego Safari takes guests on stylish desert adventures in air-conditioned vehicles, including the classic "Desert Safari" with hiking and a spot of tea, "Desert Oasis Overnight Safari" in a peaceful palm oasis and the meditative "Desert Day Spa Safari." For the more venturesome, San Diego Safari also offers "Stagecoach Tours" of the region's wild west past and "Desert Jeep Caravans" where guests can get behind the wheel and push the pedal to the metal. www.sandiegosafari.com
For those who prefer their wilderness experience tempered by touches of civilization, the town of Borrego Springs offers several good restaurants, shops and places to stay. The AAA five-diamond rated La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort is a tranquil oasis featuring 79 rooms and private casitas (small houses), most with their own spa or pool. The luxury resort also offers fine dining in the Butterfield Room, tennis courts, swimming pools with cabanas, a fitness center, mountain bikes, a life-size chessboard, shuffleboard, bocce-ball court and shuttles to shops and the local airport. www.lacasadelzorro.com
Borrego Springs is also home to two 18-hole golf courses, Ram's Hill Country Club and Borrego Springs Resort and Country Club, two par-3 executive courses, and the Anza-Borrego Tennis Center, which offers four lighted courts.
The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, located at 786 Palm Canyon Drive, is a good source of information on local recreational activities, shopping, dining and accommodations. www.borregosprings.org
A trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert wouldn't be complete without sampling the region's delicious famous fruit, the Borrego rub-red grapefruit. A Kiwanis-run booth selling locally grown grapefruit, as well as oranges and dates, is located on Christmas Circle in the middle of Borrego Springs. Each February the townsfolk celebrate the end of the grapefruit season during the Annual Borrego Springs Grapefruit Festival. This year marks the 15th anniversary of this free event, featuring food, music, crafts and games (February 28-29).
For more information on the wonders of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, visitors can contact the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, 401 B Street, Ste. 1400, Dept. 700, San Diego, CA 92101-4237, or call (619) 236-1212. In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center in downtown San Diego, located at the corner of West Broadway at Harbor Drive, and the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla. Internet users can visit www.sandiego.org.

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