Photo Credit: California Department of Parks and Recreation
The Palm Canyon Campground is located within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It’s the largest state park in California and the second largest in the United States. It is located within the Colorado Desert in Southern California. It is home to the Borrego, or Bighorn Sheep.
When To Go
This place gets really hot in summer, well into the 100s but it can also get chilly in winter, dropping into the low 40s. Looking at historical average temperatures if you can tolerate highs in the 90s and lows in the 50s, the best months to go are going to be April, May and October, November.
We went on Friday October 13th 2017 through Sunday October 15th 2017. Our temperatures peaked in the mid-90s and dropped to mid-50s. Perfect!
Where To Stay
The Palm Canyon campground is divided into 3 main sections: a section with full hookups that was under constructions when we were there (sites 1-52), a lower-numbered section where the campsites seemed to be situated quite close to each other (sites 53-89) and a further section with more space (sites 90-120 and group sites). You can book with the Reserve California website.
We snagged site #103 which was pretty secluded, with no-one behind and only one campsite across the driveway. Our site had room for 2 cars. it had a wooden shelter over the picnic table, but didn’t throw off much shade, so you’re going to want to bring a pop-up canopy to get some kind of relief from the midday sun. Check-in is at 2:00 PM and Check-out at 12:00 PM at this campground.
Looking across the way at site #104, it had a wooden shelter that was built up with rocks around it, providing a lot of shade. It definitely looks like the premiere spot in the campground. Browsing the booking site, #104 is in the highest demand.
The campground had flushing toilets and token-operated showers.
What To Bring
You’ll want to bring the basic camping equipment, but consider these:
- You should definitely bring a pop-up canopy. The sun is relentless, there is very little shade and your tent will be like an oven during the day.
- Unless you’re there in the winter, a heater will likely be unnecessary, but if you don’t like cold you may want to bring one to avoid any surprise drops in temperature
- Pack as much ice as you can into your cooler. But you’ll likely need to get more ice each day. Fortunately the town of Borrego Springs is nearby and has a couple of stores.
- Bring plenty of water. A sign on one hike recommended a gallon per person per day.
- Food storage containers. If your camping boxes don’t seal completely, consider some storage containers for open items. We had an ant attack on day 2.
What To Do
Hike, of course. There are numerous hikes in the area of varying lengths. The Palm Canyon hike is accessible from the campground, for all other hikes you’ll want to drive. Some of the hikes may only be accessible via 4×4 vehicles, check with the park rangers. We ended up picking the Hellhole Canyon trail. It leads to a waterfall although it was bone-dry while we were there. Check it out a review Modern Hiker.
The section of the campground we were in was very quiet, with only the distant sounds of other campers. When those subsided, it was very, very still. The sky was incredibly clear the view of the stars was amazing. At night, the wind did pick up, but it was never too strong. Everything at the campsite stayed in place. Mid-90s heat was tolerable, although I’d struggle being there in the summer. Nighttime temperatures of low-60s, to mid-50s were perfect.
Hiking in the 90s was tough enough, but with plenty of water and some shade at the halfway point, it was relatively straightforward.
Overall, a great experience. Pick your month very carefully to appeal to your tolerances for heat and cold!