Anza Borrego / Overland Trail Trip
March 7 & 8, 2018 • Leaders: Jerry & Dolly Dupree
The Anza Borrego / Overland stagecoach trail trip will begin March 7, 2018 at the home of Jerry and Dolly Dupree in La Quinta at 9:00 a.m. We will drive past Merv Griffin’s house on the way to Highway 86 along the west side of the Salton Sea. We will turn off on Highway 78 and the first stop will be Font’s Point, four miles off road to the overlook of the Borrego Badlands. It is a spectacular view which has been in movies and is the site of a current television commercial. The next stop will be Coyote Canyon, which parallels the San Jacinto earthquake fault and was the route of the De Anza expedition which brought settlers from Sonora, Mexico to be the first non native settlers in San Francisco. They brought a herd of over 800 cattle and horses, which was how they packed lunch in those days. There are 130 metal sculptures around Borrego Springs, depicting prehistoric animals and other creations. We can drive out to them for pictures or to see them up close. There is a map showing what they are and and their locations. The sculptures by themselves are worth a visit to the area. The next stop will be the Anza Borrego State Park for lunch and a visit to the park headquarters to view exhibits and a video of the park. Anza Borrego is the largest state park and all of the other state parks would fit within its borders, completely surrounding the community of Borrego Springs. The De Anza expedition passed through and a woman delivered a baby while there. At the southern entrance to the town there is a large roundabout named “Christmas Circle” to commemorate the event. It serves as the town social center with various celebrations on weekends. We will reserve a group campground in the State Park for those with RVs or camping. We will also reserve a number of hotel rooms about a mile from the State Park headquarters in Borrego Springs.
The trip will be at about the peak of wildflower season and if we are lucky, it will be as beautiful as it was last year. On March 8 we will tour part of the Overland Trail which was a stagecoach route which was the southern, all weather route from St. Louis, MO to San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Our trip will head down the stage route on a paved highway to tour on of the Stage Stations which has been restored. There were stage stops every 20 miles to change horses, eat, and sleep, and “refresh” for the next leg of the journey. During the Mexican American War, the Mormon Battalion traveled this route to serve in the largest battle of the war at San Pascual, which is located between Escondido and Rancho Bernardo. The soldiers ran into an obstacle in a box canyon, and using hand tools, carved a road out of the rocks wide enough to drive wagons and cannons through. During the battle, the Americans were surrounded and low on supplies and ammunition, and had to eat some of their mules. Kit Carson was able to sneak through the Mexican lines and get to San Diego for reinforcements, which won the battle. We have visited five sites of stage stations and have run across other parts of the Overland Trail during our travels. The highway connecting Gila Bend, Arizona to I-10 is a section of the route.
We will head to Blair Valley, which is an off road trip to a Native American site that was probably occupied for thousands of years. There is a rock shelter, a kitchen area with evidence of smoke on the rocks, and a pictograph along a hiking trail. A pictograph is some type of paint or dye, while a petroglyph is etched in stone. Blair Valley, like the rest of our trip, is very scenic and interesting.
We will arrange for frequent comfort stops, historical and scenic signs and plaques, and photo opportunities. Be sure to bring food to eat along the trip as the stops will be far apart with no restaurants along the way. We will make reservations in a local restaurant for Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast. Please let us know if you will be going on this trip so we have a count for the state park group camp and meal reservations. With the wildflower season and the time of the year, we hope the weather cooperates for a very interesting, varied, and beautiful tour of the Anza Borrego desert. There are about 500 miles of roads, off road trails within the park. We will be seeing some of the high points. ~ Jerry