Anza Borrego State Park and Overland Stagecoach Trail
March 7-8 • Trip Report By: Jerry & Dolly Dupree
Photos: Pete & Janet Austin, Julie & Bill Smith, Allan Wicker
The trip covered the area around Borrego Springs, which is a very nice small town west of the Salton Sea in the Anza Borrego Desert. There is so much to see and do in the area although we could only cover a small amount of it, and it required all of the time allotted. It was an enjoyable trip without a problem, leisurely pace, and no uncomfortable roads. Members met at Jerry and Dolly’s house and wound through backroads crossing the sea level contour and where the ancient sea level is plainly visible on the nearby mountains. We had perfect weather and no wind.
The members who attended were Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Frederick Rabb, Peter and Janet Austin, Bill and Julie Smith, Allan Wicker and his guest and former colleague, Adnon Aswad, Peter and Theres Browne. We were a lively group and several members of the party had researched many of the destinations online, which made it more interesting to have additional knowledge of the history and other information.
The first stop was Font’s Point, named after the navigator/cartographer and priest who went on the De Anza Expedition, which began in Sonora, Mexico through Alta California for three months and founded San Francisco. Font’s point overlooks the Borrego Badlands which were formed by sediments deposited from the Colorado River when its course flowed in this location. The land patterns were formed by water, followed by water and wind erosion. It is a spectacular view similar to the Grand Canyon and Bryce National Park.
The trip continued to Christmas Circle, so named because one of the De Anza expedition soldier’s wives delivered the first non Indian baby in California on Christmas Day. The circle is a large roundabout with a park, shade trees, tables, and restrooms. We relaxed and enjoyed the park visit.
We passed several of the famous Borrego Springs metal sculptures of dinosaurs, horses, and a friendly dragon. We stopped to examine and photograph them and then continued to Coyote Canyon to follow the route of the De Anza expedition, which parallels the San Jacinto earthquake fault, visible by the abrupt uplift. There are springs created by water seeping through the fissure in the earth with the water disappearing back into the sand a short distance below the source. We headed back to town and checked in to our hotels before dinner. We had made a reservation for a group campsite in the State Park, but none of us were camping, so my deposit was forfeited, <sigh>.
We had dinner at the Palm Canyon Hotel and had plenty of time to mix and mingle with each other and discuss each of our destinations and learned more about each other.
We had reservations for breakfast in a nice cafe and then headed for the state park visitor’s center for a very informative and well done video about the Anza Borrego Desert and its habitat. We also bought books, maps, and souvenirs.
We headed for the Overland Trail Butterfield stagecoach road and to the Vallecito stage station. There were stage stations every 20 miles to change horses, rest the passengers, spend the night, or have a meal. The building is made of adobe and was restored and is located within a San Diego County Park and campground.
We turned around and backtracked to Box Canyon where the Mormon Battalion were forced to chisel the rock walls wide enough to allow the passage of their wagons and cannons. They were en route to join in the Mexican American war and fight in the biggest battle of the war in California. The American army was surrounded and besieged and Kit Carson managed to slip through the Mexican lines to get reinforcements from San Diego to win the battle.
Our final destination was Blair Valley, with a short hike around an Indian encampment or village where there is evidence of their presence with grind stones, cooking area, and pictographs.
This marked the end of the trip and members left to the shortest way back to their homes. We had members spread out as far as La Jolla, Claremont, Joshua Tree, Arizona, and the Coachella Valley.
“May your moccasins only leave happy tracks”.