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Borrego Palm

Features: Borrego Palm Canyon is a stunning oasis tucked into a rocky gorge. Once the site of over one thousand palms, a flash flood in 2004 wiped out 70 percent of the palm population. You will notice toppled palms along the hike. There are still numerous palms left, and a seasonal waterfall to boot. Early morning visitors may be treated to desert bighorn sheep sightings. The trail begins at the pupfish pond and heads up canyon.

Keep your eye out for signs of the area’s early inhabitants – Native Americans used this canyon for food and shelter. Grinding holes can be found in boulders along the hike. After continuing up the alluvial fan, the canyon narrows and the trail continues between sheer rock walls. The trail follows the seasonal stream to the Palm Oasis. Beyond the palms is a damp grotto with a lovely waterfall. This spot makes a great rest stop or picnic area. You can take an alternate trail along the south side of the creek back to the campground, completing the 3 mile loop.

Distance: To the falls is 3 miles round trip with 600 feet of elevation gain. There are opportunities to add distance by heading along the South Fork for a 6.5 mile round trip hike with 1,400 feet of elevation gain. Check with the Park visitor center for a map and trail conditions.

Directions to Trailhead: The trail begins at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, located 1 mile north of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Headquarters. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located on the eastern side of San Diego County, with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from San Diego, Riverside, and Palm Springs. Many visitors approach from the east or west via Highways S22 and 78. From the coast, these highways descend from the heights of the Peninsular range of mountains with spectacular views of the great bowl of the Colorado Desert. Highway S2 enters the park from the south off of Interstate 8.


Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.