The strange and alien plants of our California deserts!

Palm Canyon, with California Fan Palm oasis, well above the desert and reward for a 3 mile hike up Palm Canyon.

Pink flowers along the hike up Borrego Palm Canyon
The odd Ocotillo plant, which, with just a bit of rain, blooms and sends these blossoms off to provide seeds for future germination.
The Mojave Yucca, which sends a stalk to 12 feet with full bloom.
Creosote Bush in partial bloom.
Chollo cactus in the desert twilight.

I guess I should not call these “alien”; they merely look like other-worldly plants from another time or place.  These are the lovely creations found at Anza Borrego Desert State Park in the southern Sierra (many also found at Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, east of the central Sierra).

Unfortunately, with a very dry winter and little rain in the desert, the desert bloom of wild flowers was not as spectacular as reports we have heard from the past.  We did see many plants in bloom, but not the huge fields of wildflowers we had hoped for.  Next year, perhaps!

For a full report on our recent visit to Anza Borrego Desert State Park and the nearby eerie Salton Sea and its modern day “ghost resorts”, see the Record newspaper on April 9, and my Record travel blog on April 8.

How to get there: We drove south through California’s Central Valley on I-5,  to I-210, I-10, I-15, then Hwy 79 up through the mountains – scenic at 4,000+ feet – then descended a dramatic, 15 mile switch-back road down to Borrego Springs, with the Salton Sea shimmering in afternoon, hazy sunshine to the east. It’s about a 10 hour drive from Stockton.

What to take: Camera and binoculars, good walking shoes or boots and water bottles for hiking the park’s spectacular trails

Where to stay: Anza Borrego has a fine campground for both tents and RVs, and back-country camping is another option.  Motels are found in Borrego Springs.

For more information: Anza Borrego State Park,, Ph: 760.767.5311.

Next week, a report on touring historic Route 66, from Oklahoma to Santa Monica, CA.  For other inspirational destinations in CA, see my Record blog:!

Happy travels in the West!


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