CAUTION Unless visitors know the park very well, or carry detailed maps, it is wise not to venture too far from vehicles or from marked highways or roads. Getting lost is one of the easiest things to do in the desert. It's always wise to educate yourself about desert hazards, and to make sure someone else knows where you are going.
for day-use & camping within state parks
may be purchased at the visitors center near the town of Borrego Springs
or through the mail by check, or money order.
Mail to -
Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
attn: District Administrative Chief
One of the best areas in southern California for back road
exploration. Get that SUV dusty, why don't ya?
Easy accessibilty & geographically desireable almost all year
long. But make sure to check
them high temps
before you head out in mid summer. Average
Weather Temps Chart
This 600,000 acre park has hundreds of miles of dirt roads. Most are accessible with 2WD high clearance vehicles. Soft sand in washes are common, so keep you speed up & do not come to a sudden stop in these areas. Small boulders on the road are not unhead of. There may be some rocky obstacles along the way, so take plenty of precautions & drive at a moderate speed. Racing around fast (over 25mph) , tears up the trails, damages the plants, disrupts the wildlife & may eventually lead to road closures.
A great back country map of this region is
Tom Harrison San Diego BackCountry Map which can be found at
most stores that carry a good selection of wilderness maps.
Spots for 4WD enthusiasts. Some trails may require 4x4 for deep sand or steep hills, other routes are just awesome lil dirt roads. High clearance is usually advised if you plan to travel more than a mile off the pavement.
LEAPIN LIZARD RV RANCH
(Private Campground Resort)
85 acres, 60 camp sites
located on Split Mountain Road, Ocotillo Wells, CA
OCOTILLO WELLS SVRA
(State Vehicular Recreation Area)
elev. 160', 4x4 and off road camp sites for trailers & RVs
no water, no hook-ups, pit toilets, no fees, 760-767-5391
located on Highway 78 (closed June-Sept)
SALTON SEA SRA
(State Recreation Area & Campground)
Mecca Beach, Corvina Beach, Salt Creek Campgrounds
located on Highway 111 on east side of inland sea
SLAB CITY @ SALTON SEA
old Camp Dunlap in California desert badlands
A snowbird campsite in the Sonoran Desert 156 miles NE of San Diego,
free & open RV camping near Salton Sea
located off Highway 111 on east side of inland sea
(OHV trails & camp spots)
elev. 300', 4x4 and off road camp sites for car camping, toy hauler trailers & RVs
no water, no hook-ups, no fees,
located on S-22, East of Borrego Springs, CA
(San Diego County Park)
44 camp sites for tents & RVs, no hook-ups, toilets, overnight / day use fees, 760-765-1188
located on S-2, 22 miles N of Interstate 8 (closed June-Aug)
NOTE: Open, dispersed, free camping (often called primitive camping) is also allowed inside the State Park. Dirt roads lead to zillions of scenic destinations. Some roads suitable for passenger cars, others are not. Read below for more info.
The only park in the whole state that allows open camping throughout the park.
There are 9 designated primitive camp areas plus 1 horse camp. No tables, toilets or parking stalls. Plenty of dirt roads to explore. Most regular passenger cas can get to these sites. But many roads will require an SUV or even 4X4. Check our backcountry roads section. A backcountry road map is highly advisable.
Anza Ranger 760-767-5311
No ground fires allowed.
Better bring a metal container.
an old washing machine tub works very well for campfires