Many of the prehistoric creatures that once roamed the Anza-Borrego Desert can still be found there today, as well as a few other creatures that may never have trod the same ground as those still standing. They draw a small crowd nonetheless.
Two hours to the east of Southern California’s world famous beaches lies Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the town of Borrego Springs. The park covers over 53,000 acres of preserved natural habitat, while the small town itself sits right in the middle of it. For the weary hiker or 4wheeler there are a number of places to rest your head, whether it be one of the developed campgrounds or one of the local accommodations, there is a place for every body.
Just outside of Borrego Springs, to the north and south, is an impressive collection of 130 free-standing metal sculptures. Commissioned by a now deceased long-time land owner in the area, artist Ricardo Breceda has created a surreal addition to the already otherworldly landscape. Upon catching a glimpse of one of these creations your eyes are instantly and naturally drawn deeper into the desert brush in hopes of spotting another one. Gradually the figures begin to materialize and take shape. Their slowly rusting bodies set them apart from their natural surroundings, yet somehow provide a deceiving camouflage that keeps the bulk of them hidden from sight until you venture off of the road in search of more of the mysterious creatures.
You have to do a little bit of asking around and a small amount of exploring to find all 130, but it’s worth the minuscule effort required to track each small grouping down. Perhaps the crowning piece in the collection is the 350 foot long undulating serpent that crosses under the road, seemingly linking two of the groups of sculptures together. It’s massive, and it’s beautiful.
If you spent your childhood as many of my friends and myself did, imagining the beasts that once roamed and feasted in our own backyards would come to life and tread through our yards once more, this place will surely re-kindle that magic for you. It did for my travel companion and I.
A little pro tip: If you pass through Julian on your way out to Borrego Springs – stop at Mom’s Pies. They offer fresh, warm, homemade pies as well as delicious homemade ice cream.