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Old 03-17-2014, 11:48 PM   #1
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Anza Borrego Trip Report - Our Crosstrek Finally Sees Dirt!

Ever since riding to Anza Borrego and touring Blair Valley with a group of adventure riders from San Diego, I've been wanting to go back there and camp. Finally had the opportunity to do that this weekend with the wife and the RV, and our 3 dogs.

This last weekend the weather was absolutely perfect for this. 80 in the middle of the day, cool nights, and a light breeze. It can be HOT out there and WINDY!

We left Saturday morning, destination Blair Valley. The cool thing about Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the camping is pretty much open and it's free. Not very many people know this and most stay in some kind of developed campground...and pay the fees, and deal with other campers stacked on top of each other.

Out here there was a jeep club with a few rigs, and some desert runners that were mostly based out of a campground up the road, and maybe a couple of other rigs in the entire valley and that was it! In the middle of this photo you can see our motorhome out in the middle of the desert landscape. I took a drive and hike to get a birds-eye view. It is amazingly beautiful here, no trash, no kwads, no screaming kids. LOL



Blair Valley to the south. There's a large dry lake that is grass covered and protected from vehicle traffic to keep it pristine.




We've owned our Subaru Crosstrek AWD for a year and I still hadn't had it offroad. It's setup for towing so it finally got to see some dirt. Here's our desert campsite.



Our first venture was touring Blair Valley and Little Blair Valley. It's a beautiful desert landscape, cactus, shrubs, flowers. The bike trip I took out here a couple of years ago passed through here, there were about 25 riders and we camped at Butterfield Ranch which is just down the road about 8 or 10 miles. Seeing it again in the Subaru was just fantastic. The car is definitely in it's element here. We were riding along with the windows up and the air conditioning going. Sure is a contrast from my motorbikes!



One of the things we did when I had my jeep is I would take Sherry and the kids to some of the awesome riding spots I had seen over the years, like Kennedy Meadows, Johnson Valley, Big Bear, etc. Today I got to take her and the dogs to Anza and enjoy the desert landscape. There was NOBODY around - just saw a few other rigs. Remote and quiet...how I like it.



More of Little Blair Valley. There is plenty more to explore for the next time we go...



Some hiking in the rocks around camp.



Next we took Banner Grade up to Julian for a stroll. Here we're sipping Sangria at one of the wine tasting places there. And yes, we had the 3 dogs with us. We were still kind of celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary so we got a nice young lady there to snap our picture. If you look close you can see her reflection in the storefront window. Julian is such a neat old little town.





Turns out the lady that owns the wine bar has a dog so the whole place is dog friendly. We were just tickled to be welcomed, to be able to sit down and sip a glass of wine, with our dogs, and visit with folks.
There's Gracie the white female, Tigger is a black male, and Bucky the red male. They're a cute gaggle of doggies. Everybody just has a fit, they can't believe all the colors. And they're all pomeranians.



Old Town Julian...check out what the tourists do while visiting...LOL



Now it was time to get back to camp, cocktail hour so I'm sitting in the shade sipping a martini, Sher is playing a computer game on her laptop. Later we cooked up some steak on the BBQ and enjoyed the evening.



Princess Grace...pretending to be a guard dog.



We had a fellow setup camp not too far from us, car and tent, and Gracie our white pom kept going over there to visit so we started talking. Turns out he works for Apple and was there from South Bay. Seemed like one of the riding guys, but he was driving instead of riding. He had a campfire so we got a little campfire stories in and had a very enjoyable evening. A full moon came up early.

The next day we drove out the Great Southern Overland Stage Route to Agua Caliente, Vallecito, and Butterfield Ranch. Sorry, no pics uploaded. Another beautiful day in the desert, not too hot, just right, and lots to see. The choilla cactus were all in bloom with red-tipped brush type flowers - thousands of them!

Well, all good things have to come to an end, so we left for home about 4 o'clock, got home in time for dinner.

I kept thinking what a great place for a group camp and some desert riding here. We'll just have to set that up.

Thanks for joining us on our trip to the dez!
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:42 AM   #2
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Really nice Thanks for sharing
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Old 03-24-2014, 10:53 PM   #3
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Chris,
It sure looks like you had a nice trip. We know the area of Blair Valley real well. We've been camping there for well over 20 years. We used it as a base point for our jeep outings. There's good jeep runs to the south and to the north. Blair, as you stated, is a very quaint, nice, quiet and peaceful place to camp and just enjoy the desert. That is course, it's not melting the paint off your hood.

We've even been in Blair when it SNOWED!!! Did camp to the left or, to the right of the main entrance? There's actually two entrances to Blair. Then there's "Little Blair Valley" too. In case you didn't get there, it's on the top side of the eastern mountain of Blair. I didn't read all your report so, you might have covered this part. But, your little tow car should be able to go from Blair to Little Blair with ease. It's not hard and it's fun little trip with lots to see.

Well, I just went back and read some of your photo descriptions and it appears you did cover little Blair. That's cool. I don't know if you know about "Yaquitepec" or, otherwise known as "Ghost Mountain" or not but, that's a neat, easy little hike on the southern end of Blair valley. It's all about a gent who, in the late 20s as in and around '29, got tired of civilization and, took his wife and family up to the top of Ghost Mountain and set up life there.

Over the years, he, his wife and kids really adapted to life on top of that mountain. If you take the hike, (that is if, you haven't done it), you'll see remnants of his incredibly hard life there. We have a book on it.

Anyway, I could type for hours here telling you all about what we did while camping at Blair. We have some really fond memories of it. I love that little camping area. We did miles and miles of exploration in all directions using Blair as a base camp. The really nice part about Blair, it's only 50 minutes from our home,

The local Boy Scout troop has many outings out there in Blair. They have a ton of fun doing it. They're not noisy or troublesome at all. It's kind of cool to know they're out there learning things about our desert. As you've stated that you'll be returning, you'll find that there's new things to see and do, each time you go there. And, also like you've stated, it's FREE! Maybe one of these days (trips) we could meet up. We got lots of campfire stories. I'm happy you got to see a part of our local Anza Borrego desert without the "quads, motorcycles, loud and obnoxious toys, and more".

We absolutely love the piece and quiet out there. Take care and have fun on another trip.
Scott
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:03 AM   #4
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Nice trip report, and nicely illustrated.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the nice comments.

Scott - let us know if you plan a weekend out there this spring, we'll come down again. I was really pleased that access was no problem - the reports warn of sand and 4-wheel drive suggestion so I called a riding buddy from near San Diego and he said easy to get in from the main (center) entrance. The jeep club from Hemet was there to the left on the entrance road so we went right and past the pit-toilets and on down a ways to a very quiet spot - no one around! We've camped in the desert a LOT but always in an OHV area with the bikes, the kids, and the atv's. It's always noisy and dusty and a bazillion people. This was so nice and peaceful, we just loved it.

Sher was a little queezy Sunday morning so when we got back from Agua Caliente I went out for a drive to explore some more, found Yaquitepec trailhead but didn't hike out to the home site. We'll do that next trip. Then I found the Pictograph trail head and hiked out about a mile and back. I scrambled up giant rocks to the ridge that overlooks the southern valley instead of all the way down to the painted rocks - fantastic view. Then drove through Little Blair again and back down the hiway.

A couple of years ago a friend took me out to Fish Creek Canyon near Ocotillo on the bikes so I had plans of driving down there to show Sherry but we ran out of time. I see the trails also lead there from the west but I think they may be a little too aggressive for the car. Might do it in a lifted jeep but not sure about the car. Something about the two 'drop offs'. LOL. I've seen pictures, some of the guys ride through there, and some of it is REALLY steep and really sandy. My old TJ was lifted and locked on 35's. The little subaru is fun but not real aggressive.

We also stopped at several camping areas and parks to check them out for future trips. I've camped at Butterfield on a bike trip (Husqvarna TE630 and Triumph Tiger 800XC) and we drove through there again and it's a nice park. The one up the road from Blair is also nice but kind of barren. Both are about $35 a night and would be good if it got real hot and you needed to plug in and run the AC. Until it gets super hot we can get by up to about 90, run the gen and AC for 4 or 5 hours thru the heat of the day, and then it usually cools off as soon as the sun sets, so it's do-able dry camping as long as it's not over a hundred.

We stopped out to All Seasons RV Park near Escondido, not horrible but not lovely either, LOL. Could be okay for a weekend. We've stayed at Pechanga and it's real nice, but $75 a night is a little rich for us. My sis loves it there so we come down when they're there. We drove over 76 through Pala and that is a REALLY twisty road and steep climb - over 40' restriction. No problem with our shorty coach and lots of power, so it was fine, but wow - have ridden it on bikes but not driven a car - the RV was a trick. We stopped briefly at Lake Henshaw and unfortunately it's kind of a mud-hole. I asked Sher if she wanted to stop and she just wanted to keep going so we didn't look close at the campground. Vallacito was pretty nice, but Agua Caliente was a zoo. We would take little kids there to swim but too crowded for our tastes. Seems like a destination spot for San Diegens.

Also drove by Oak Knoll and Dripping Springs on the return leg over 79. I wanted to stop at Santa Isabel but we were short on time. At Anza we checked out Yaquit but though it was kind of barren as well, a LOT of sand, which I'm okay with driving car but the RV not so much.

Okay, I've rambled enough. It's time to plan another desert trip.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:01 AM   #6
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Hi Chris,
Great report. I'm President of the AMA District 37 Dualsport group and I wonder if you did Randy's ride. He's the San Diego Adv Riders group that puts on a ride every February in that area. The riders camp at Butterfield.
We used to have a place in Anza on Table Mountain from 1979 till 1998 or so. We love the area and will be doing more boondocking in the area thanks to your write up!
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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Hi Chris,
Great report. I'm President of the AMA District 37 Dualsport group and I wonder if you did Randy's ride. He's the San Diego Adv Riders group that puts on a ride every February in that area. The riders camp at Butterfield.
We used to have a place in Anza on Table Mountain from 1979 till 1998 or so. We love the area and will be doing more boondocking in the area thanks to your write up!
Well, very nice to 'meet' you Keith! I'm not much for organized rides - I can't deal with dust as I wear contact lenses. So I'm usually in front on group rides or a wingman for the leader. I mostly lead group rides as well - been on two wheels for more than 40 years!

A couple of my buddies were out for that one, Todd Richards is a very good friend, and Arnie Fry - both of them were there and had a great time. Maybe next year for me. And I'm familiar with the SDAR forum - great group of guys.

I'll be doing some more dualsport riding in the area, lots to see. I've been going north for about 15 years - I know Mojave dez REALLY well. LOL.

Let's organize a campout and dualsport ride out there - small group, low key, okay? A lot of the guys like to ride to these areas and get-togethers. I have done that but the Husky is really setup for dirt so lots of hiway on the 606's just melts them away. I will usually truck it if the ride is more than a hundred miles. Besides, I'm getting old and the RV is really comfy.

This weekend Joel's Noob Rally in Death Valley. We'll be staying at Panamint Springs Resort for 4 days, 200 riders and campers are showing up. Leaving tomorrow early, whoot!

Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, I remembered I had a photo of my first trip to Blair Valley - here's Little Blair. There were about 25 of us, a group ride organized by the SDAR group. We rode Nate Harrison Grade, lunch at the hide-out, Grapevine Canyon, Blair Valley, and camped at Butterfield. Next day we rode Oriflame and on up Banner Grade to Julian - it was raining up there so I had coffee and pie and headed for home!'

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Old 04-02-2014, 09:24 PM   #8
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Next time out head to the other side and see all the Steel art in the desert. Borrego Springs also has mucho boondocking area and trails for the foot, bike or 4x4. A couple good eateries. This year a film company was there filming and saw jesus in the desert. Fonts Point is a great evening 4x4 trip(might be OK for front wheel drive but is up a wash) sunset looking at Borrego Springs and and moon rise over the Salton Sea if you catch it right. Also Palm Canyon hike to an Oassis and might see a Borrego sheep or two. We spend at leat a week or two there every year. And yes the wind can blow.

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Old 04-02-2014, 09:54 PM   #9
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Nice trip and writeup! We stayed in Borrego Springs the winter of 2009 and hit things from San Deigo to the Salton Sea and from north of Desert Center to Mexicali. Great area!
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRE UP View Post
Chris,
It sure looks like you had a nice trip. We know the area of Blair Valley real well. We've been camping there for well over 20 years. We used it as a base point for our jeep outings. There's good jeep runs to the south and to the north. Blair, as you stated, is a very quaint, nice, quiet and peaceful place to camp and just enjoy the desert. That is course, it's not melting the paint off your hood.

We've even been in Blair when it SNOWED!!! Did camp to the left or, to the right of the main entrance? There's actually two entrances to Blair. Then there's "Little Blair Valley" too. In case you didn't get there, it's on the top side of the eastern mountain of Blair. I didn't read all your report so, you might have covered this part. But, your little tow car should be able to go from Blair to Little Blair with ease. It's not hard and it's fun little trip with lots to see.

Well, I just went back and read some of your photo descriptions and it appears you did cover little Blair. That's cool. I don't know if you know about "Yaquitepec" or, otherwise known as "Ghost Mountain" or not but, that's a neat, easy little hike on the southern end of Blair valley. It's all about a gent who, in the late 20s as in and around '29, got tired of civilization and, took his wife and family up to the top of Ghost Mountain and set up life there.

Over the years, he, his wife and kids really adapted to life on top of that mountain. If you take the hike, (that is if, you haven't done it), you'll see remnants of his incredibly hard life there. We have a book on it.

Anyway, I could type for hours here telling you all about what we did while camping at Blair. We have some really fond memories of it. I love that little camping area. We did miles and miles of exploration in all directions using Blair as a base camp. The really nice part about Blair, it's only 50 minutes from our home,

The local Boy Scout troop has many outings out there in Blair. They have a ton of fun doing it. They're not noisy or troublesome at all. It's kind of cool to know they're out there learning things about our desert. As you've stated that you'll be returning, you'll find that there's new things to see and do, each time you go there. And, also like you've stated, it's FREE! Maybe one of these days (trips) we could meet up. We got lots of campfire stories. I'm happy you got to see a part of our local Anza Borrego desert without the "quads, motorcycles, loud and obnoxious toys, and more".

We absolutely love the piece and quiet out there. Take care and have fun on another trip.
Scott

Ghost Mountain and what's left of the residence (very interesting little hike):
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:11 PM   #11
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Next time out head to the other side and see all the Steel art in the desert. Borrego Springs also has mucho boondocking area and trails for the foot, bike or 4x4. A couple good eateries. This year a film company was there filming and saw jesus in the desert. Fonts Point is a great evening 4x4 trip(might be OK for front wheel drive but is up a wash) sunset looking at Borrego Springs and and moon rise over the Salton Sea if you catch it right. Also Palm Canyon hike to an Oassis and might see a Borrego sheep or two. We spend at leat a week or two there every year. And yes the wind can blow.

LEN
You got me excited and to thinking about our time out there with Borrego Springs as our base camp, so I just had to post a few pictures:

Desert steel art, hiking a slot canyon, remnants at one of Patton's Desert Training Camps, Palm Canyon:
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:29 PM   #12
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We live in North County San Diego, so AB and Julian (for apple pie and cinnamon ice cream) are frequent stops for us in the RV and on bikes.

We've also been interested in meeting other RV'rs in this area for a group camping adventure. If you're interested in company, let us know when you're venturing out next.
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:07 AM   #13
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Very nice pics and commentary. I guess we have some more exploring to do out there.

This weekend we are headed for Indio - sis and b-in-law are in a park with their big coach so we'll visit before they head off to Vegas, Phoenix, and then back home to Seattle/Everett.

Let me look at the calendar and pick out a couple of weekends that could be booked again out there and try and put together a "West Coast IRV2 Campout". See if we can hit a time when most can join in or stop by. And before it gets too hot out there.
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Old 07-21-2014, 02:03 PM   #14
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Next time out head to the other side and see all the Steel art in the desert.

LEN
From this past winter...








Enjoyed the report, brought back our time there.
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