Abandoned gas station: Highway 20, Central Oregon

Arts, outdoors give Borrego Springs appeal

By: ZACHARY SMITH – Staff Writer | Saturday, February 25, 2006 8:08 PM PST

Barrel cactus and cholla illuminate the otherwise rocky, barren desert near Borrego Springs. The succulents generally show some color this time of year as they are durable in dry climates.

The dry winter could render the desert wildflower outlook uncertain. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other reasons to visit Borrego Springs right now.

Borrego Springs offers plenty of activities to anyone looking for a getaway not far from home. This time of year, the area boasts clear skies, mild temperatures and plenty of open space for anyone wanting to either spend a day on a resort golf course or hike a nearby boulder- and cactus-strewn canyon to a lush palm oasis.

Tens of thousands of people are drawn to the area during the popular visiting months —- October to April. Normally a sleepy, dusty town with a population of about 3,000, Borrego Spring’s winter population swells to about 7,000. The Chamber of Commerce estimated that last year, 10,000 to 15,000 visitors made their way to town and the surrounding state park to catch the explosive wildflower bloom and take in the local charm.

The town has numerous cultural attractions that draw visitors each winter, such as a performing arts center, and art galleries and museums that encompass Southwest culture, wildlife and scenery. Many of the galleries and museums are within a couple of city blocks from each other on Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Spring’s main thoroughfare.

This spring, the town will hold its 17th annual Circle of Arts Show and Sale on March 25 and 26 at Christmas Circle in the center of town. The outdoor juried fine arts event will feature 70 artists in genres such as oil and mixed-media paintings, ceramics/pottery, art glass, jewelry, fabric art and photography as well as other items of artistic design. The weekend event is free. Call (760) 767-0042 or visit

The Circle of Art show benefits BASIC (Basic Assistance for Students in the Community), a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships for Borrego Valley residents.

Visitors have several options for overnight accommodations. The area boasts everything from Palm Springs-style resorts with pools, fine dining, golf and entertainment, to standard motels, RV resorts and tent camping.

Other attractions to the area include Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the 600,000-acre park that surrounds the Borrego Valley. The park offers some of the most scenic and rugged landscape for desert recreational adventure. It is an ideal place for anyone who loves outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, wildflower viewing, geology, horseback riding and four-wheel adventures.

There has been some wildflower growth such as desert sunflowers, lupine and verbena in the Henderson Canyon area, according to a wildflower report in

Jim Bremner who runs, a Web site that posts wildflower updates and provides information about the desert Southwest, said that while the area is extremely dry, there is a still a chance of a bloom in March. He said that there are many seedlings left over from last year’s bloom that could sprout if the Borrego Valley-area gets a good February rain.

Other plants that will display flowers, regardless of precipitation, include cactus, ocotillo and creosote, Bremner said.

For more on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and wildflower updates, call (760) 767-4205. For information on Borrego Springs, visit the chamber’s Web site at

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