Tag Archives: Borrego Springs

Big Burgers at Big Horn Bar & Grill

IMG_8971Our first night in Borrego Springs Katie and I arrived earlier than we had expected, but still late enough for the residence of Borrego Springs to have called it a night. We were hungry so we yelped a nearby restaurant, Big Horn Bar & Grill, which is inside the Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort. It had 4.5 stars and was one of the few places still open at 7pm, so we decided to give it a try.

When we walked in we could see a small store to the left and the dinning room ahead. It was completely empty except for 2 guys at a table eating dinner and the workers milling around. We sat at a high top and quickly read through the menu. Our waitress stopped by and took our order, nachos and burgers. We debated getting a drink or two since the prices were so cheap, but decided not to.

A few minutes later our food arrived. The nachos was the first thing we dove into. They had gooey cheese, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions, and chicken. It was amazing. Next I ate my Western Burger with onion rings, bacon, and BBQ sauce and sweet potato fries with maple syrup on them. Katie had her Jalapeño Burger and their regular seasoned fries. Both meals were so surprisingly delicious that there was none leftover.

We left Big Horn Bar & Grill stuffed to the max and extremely happy we had stopped. Next time we are in Borrego Springs we will be going back. Fair prices and big portions on awesome tasting food is always something we welcome.

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Giddying Up To Mud Caves with Ranger Don

IMG_8973Katie and I went to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park just a little under 4 hours away from Los Angeles for a weekend getaway. We arrived late in the evening at my friend’s place in Borrego Springs, super close to everything that we wanted to see. I have to say that I absolutely love the Anza-Borrego Desert. Only having been there once before I couldn’t wait to start exploring the desert again.

The next morning we woke up early and took a quick look at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Interpretive Activities. We headed out to Mt. Palm Springs Camp Ground to meet with Ranger Don for an Auto Tour to the mud caves of Arroyo Tapiado. Along the way our phones went in and out of service, but the route was very straight forward and clearly marked except for the final camp ground turn off.

Ranger Don was late due to some kids that were digging a trench in order to film a desert scene in their movie, but once he was there he was ready to go and so excited to show us the mud caves and his section of the park. He spoke to us for a few moments letting us know that we could ask him anything about the park or his job or anything related. Then we all jumped in our cars and followed Ranger Don to the dirt road that led to the mud caves.

Since Katie and I were driving her 2×4 truck we opted to stay right behind Ranger Don. He headed out of the camp ground and didn’t waste any time reaching the dirt road that takes us to the Arroyo Tapiado mud caves. He pulled off the road and let everyone else catch up, then headed down the dirt road and out toward the caves. Pretty much every path reconnected with the original path except at one main turn and then once in the canyon there was only one way to go. It was so much fun!

Being that we were keeping right up with Ranger Don and the rest of the group was falling behind, occasionally Ranger Don would stop his jeep and come talk to us while the others caught up. He reminded us that since we didn’t have a 4×4 if we felt like we were gonna get stuck we should just step on the gas and “giddy up through it.” He also pointed out a little campground Hollywood and Vine that we might camp at sometime this winter and the cave where the young man had recently gotten trapped inside and died. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, the mud caves really are very fragile. They might look intriguing, but it is advised not to go exploring these caves as they can collapse at any time making rescue difficult to impossible. It really was an unfortunate event that they were unable to rescue this young man.

Eventually, we reached the main Arroyo Tapiado mud caves. The first mud cave we saw Ranger Don chose not to have us explore inside. It was right beside a plaque that told us all about the caves which are just walls of dried mud. Over centuries water has been sculpting these canyons and caves and rains and flash floods continue to form and change the tunnels today. Ranger Don told us that according to Google there are about 22 mud caves in the area. He took us to a three that he hadn’t explored in a few years.

The first mud cave that we explored had a small opening about 4ft tall to 4ft wide. We ducked under the low ceiling and came out into a tunnel that was pretty tall. As we followed the tunnel the path it became pitch black. Good thing we had borrowed Ranger Don’s flash light or we would not have been able to see anything. The cave become narrow in some sections and wider in others. Some places you had to climb over, duck under or scurry around to continue into the darkness. It seemed to go on and on forever. We eventually decided that the others were waiting for us so we headed back to the beginning of the tunnel.

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Ranger Don told us that some of the mud caves go straight through the mountains and come out the other side in complete darkness while others end up on the top of the mountains and have openings along the way. It all just depends on which you explore. He took us to the next cave which the entrance had been blocked by a huge chunk of stone that had fallen from above. I squeezed underneath and came to a short pathway that led back into a big open room with a large opening at the top. If it wasn’t just dried mud it would have been a rock climber’s dream. I could only think that when it rained water might run down the wall similar to a waterfall. There was one small tunnel to the side, but the slit was so small no one of our group could fit through it.

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The last mud cave we explored had extremely high walls and many open ceilings. It was beautiful. We left the group for a moment and followed the path back where dried mud walls would slant across the path and we would dip beneath them for a few moments and soon be in another open section. It was interesting to see how the mud sat in layers within the walls and bubbled in others. Realizing we had been gone for a while we hurried back to the entrance to say our goodbyes to Ranger Don. I got a picture with him and his truck and then we followed him back out to the main road.

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I have to say Katie and I had a great time that day and for not having had much desert driving experience Katie did an awesome job driving and following Ranger Don. By the end of our tour we had ear to ear smiles and Ranger Don was a big party of it! I am so grateful that the Rangers at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park make time for visitors and truly enjoy showing guests around the area.

An Oasis in Borrego Palm Canyon

IMG_8707I swung by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Foundation Store and Visitor’s Center in Borrego Springs and asked about another hike that my little Honda Fit would be able to drive me to. I was told to check out Hellhole Canyon or Borrego Palm Canyon. Since I was by myself I chose the one with more foot traffic just to be on the safe side. I headed over to Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and drove towards the back where the trailhead is. It was around 3:30pm, so I had about 2 hours before dark to make the 3 miles.

I grabbed a pamphlet at the trailhead which marks different plants, rocks, animals, and waters throughout the trek and started my hike following the clearly marked trail. I took note of two signs posted about bob cats and rattle snakes to my left and quickly made my way to the first point. I stopped to read my pamphlet about the cacti at this location, thinking to make sure I stayed clear of any cacti. I don’t need to be pricked by anything along my journey.

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I continued to point 2, 3, 4, and 5 quickly and thought to myself how this hike was going to be very fast if I kept coming upon the points at this rate. I got a false sense of distance and time spent on the trail as the map I had looked at made them all look  relatively similar in distance from each other.

The sun dropped below the mountain tops around me and after point 5, the points seemed to get farther and farther apart from each other. I was a little nervous I would not make it to the oasis in time to make it back before the sunset, but I continued on. I kept a careful eye out knowing that the cooler temperature might bring out snakes.  Little creatures, like lizards had started to scatter across the path in my way. The last thing I wanted was to come across a rattle snake.

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I picked up my pace a bit and continued to the next points. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Bees buzzed pasted my head, and more little creatures scattered across my path. My intuition had been right, I came around a bend in the trail and there was a snake. I froze, not sure what to do. I can only imagine that it was as fearful of me as I was of it. It was a dark grey color with a long nose. I didn’t believe it was poisonous, but I had no way to move it off the path. I tossed a stick at it, hoping it would cause it to clear the pathway, but it just stayed where it was. I slowly walked around the backside of it, keeping my distance and made it past without incident. Thinking back to it now, I should have stopped to take a photo of it, but that was the last thing on my mind.

I continued onto point 11. Right before I reached it I could hear the first signs of the oasis being near, running water. I came to where the stream dies out and to my right I could see it, far off in the distance, about a 1/2 mile away, the oasis. A small patch of palm trees peaking over the rocks in the valley of the mountains on each side of me. The excitement ran through my body and I hurried on my journey.

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I came across two elderly couples as I climbed up and down rocks, moving closer and farther from the stream. They said they were the last people that had been up that way, but that they didn’t reach the oasis. I feared there was no one behind me, so I picked up the pace even more, closing the gap between me and the small paradise in the desert. Every bend watching the palm trees grow bigger and bigger.

When I finally reached the paradise there was a small family there getting ready to head back. I observed the small waterfall, palm trees, and beautiful stream. The green lush plants and cool shade made it all worth it. I could have continued another mile or so to a bigger waterfall, but I didn’t have the time. I decided to turn back, quickly catching up to the family that had departed about 5-10 minutes before me.

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On the way back to the trailhead I scanned the mountains for the ever popular and desert animal, bighorn sheep. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park gets its name from 18th-century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word for bighorn sheep. I thought it would be an amazing and nice ending to my trip if I was able to spot one. Unfortunately none were around that day so instead I settled for some beautiful tiny flowers once the trailhead was back in my sights.

I made it back to the trailhead before the sunset, got in my car and headed back to LA. As I drove up over the mountain I watched the sun’s rays stretch across the desert in an amazing board of breath-taking colors. As the last light of the sun left the sky, the stars started to scatter across the sky. I can’t wait to go back and explore more. Maybe spend a night camping under the stars there too.

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