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How to Avoid Wildflower Crowds in the Desert This Weekend

Steer clear of traffic as thousands descend upon the tiny town of Borrego Springs


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A cactus blooms in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. | Photo: Sanna Boman Coates

Last weekend it seemed like everyone in Southern California had the same idea — to catch a glimpse of this season’s spectacular wildflower “superbloom” in Borrego Springs. Traffic was backed up for miles coming down Montezuma Valley Road as 20,000 people headed toward the tiny desert town — and finding parking or a hiking trail with some privacy proved more or less impossible. Local restaurants were even running out of food.

To avoid the massive crowds this weekend, but still get a glimpse of the colorful desert bloom, we recommend using one of the following options.

 

Take the road less traveled

Desert bloom off County Route S2. | Photo: Sanna Boman Coates

Montezuma Valley Road, the 20-mile twisty mountain road that connects State Route 79 with Borrego Springs, is the main entryway into town from San Diego. However, there are other, less busy ways to get to Borrego. Try taking the 78 east from Julian to the S3 north, which will bring you to Borrego Springs the southern route.

Coming this way, you can even avoid going into downtown Borrego Springs, and instead opt to stop along Borrego Springs Road for some pretty spectacular wildflower sightings, minus the crowds.  

 

Explore other parts of the park

Wildflowers in Anza-Borrego's Canyon Sin Nombre. | Photo: Sanna Boman Coates

Another option is to steer clear of Borrego Springs altogether. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California, and much of it is covered in bloom and greenery after this winter’s heavy rainfalls. One of our favorite routes is to take the 8 freeway all the way to Ocotillo and then head north on County Route S2. About 10-15 miles north of Ocotillo, the desert landscape will start to become more colorful, and there are plenty of overlooks and canyons to stop at for a hike or a quick photo session.

Pro tip: DesertUSA has the latest Anza-Borrego flower updates, including maps showing where to find the bloom.

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San Diego Magazine's editorial staff (Erin Chambers Smith + Erin Meanley + Kimberly Cunningham + Archana Ram + Sanna Boman Coates + a handful of smart, thoughtful contributors) blog about everything from restaurants and bars to behind the scenes gossip to the best events happening this weekend. Looking for foodie and restaurant guru Troy Johnson? He's got his own blog here.

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