Miscellaneous Fun at Borrego Springs

It’s been fun boondocking with friends out here near Borrego Springs, CA. Besides hiking in the state park there’s been art tours, a craft afternoon, exploring down dirt roads, and walks near camp. Let’s start with the art tours.

Artist and welder Ricardo Breceda started crafting metal sculptures for the Galleta Meadows Estate after owner Dennis Avery decided he wanted some freestanding art to decorate the massive property. Today there are over 130 full-size sculptures in the Borrego Springs area, the largest concentration of Breceda’s work in the world.

The story of how Ricardo Breceda got started making these sculptures is quite interesting. A construction accident over ten years ago left him unable to hold down most jobs, and he was making his living selling exotic boots. A customer traded him a welding machine in exchange for a pair of boots one day and he started playing with it in his off-time. Breceda’s then 7-year-old daughter wanted a life-size statue of a dinosaur, and that’s how the whole thing started.

A dedicated person could see most of the sculptures in a day, but I’m enjoying breaking it up into smaller chunks. So far we’ve gone out twice. Galleta Meadows is private property set aside for conservation, but open to the public. It’s found to the north of town.

My favorite so far is a 350-foot-long serpent that spans across Borrego Springs Road, the detail on the head is incredible. This is one of the most popular ones and it can be hard to get a picture without people in it. Coming early in the morning I’ve heard is helpful.

The jeep is another neat one. The two riders have hair that is blowing in the wind and the dashboard has dials on it. Internet sources say it’s based on the1946 Willy’s Cj-3A, one of the first Jeep models.

I also enjoyed the miner with the pack-mule. The mule is all loaded up with gear.

Now onto the craft afternoon. Vanessa has been wanting to make a soda-can stove for backpacking for quite some time (Brian already has one and uses it frequently), and I jumped on the chance to make one too. You need two aluminum cans (three is better to allow for errors), an exacto-knife, scissors, hole punch or drill, and a high-heat adhesive of some sort.

If you want to make one yourself, do a search online to get directions. They’ll be more comprehensive that what I could write here having only done it once following Vanessa’s example. In essence, the bottom of one can you punch holes in for the flames to come out and cut out the middle, the bottom of the second can becomes the base, and the middle of one of the cans makes the inner wall. It takes more time than I expected to put it all together. Brian uses denatured alcohol as a fuel and we try them the next night, it really does work!

The drive out to Coyote Canyon (closed June 1 to October 1) happens on the 25th. This dirt road doesn’t show up on Google Maps, but if you follow Di Giorgio Road north of town it’s a continuation of that. Check at the visitor center first though for road conditions, they also have a map that shows the points of interest along it. We primarily went to see if the flower field west of Coyote Peak was blooming yet. There are a few flowers around, but peak color is still a ways off.

We make it out to Desert Gardens which has a few picnic tables and a little trail leading up a soft incline to a bench. It’s greener out here than by camp, I think it gets more rain being closer to the mountains.

Beyond Desert Gardens the road is 4-wheel-drive recommended so I turn around, but if you have such a vehicle the road goes much farther. There are hiking trails along this road too, but we don’t take any of them having gotten a late start.

There’s a not-so-well-kept secret that gets passed down from the veterans out at this boondocking area to the new people who show up: there’s rock art on one of the hills nearby. One evening I take off west of camp with the intent of finding this treasure trove.

Several little trails criss-cross the hillside, so finding the right one is not intuitive. There’s also a lot of loose rock so good footwear is recommended.

Before long I’m high enough to get a picture of all of the rigs spread out below. Far in the distance the edge of the badlands are just visible. It’s a sunny day and the sky is a pretty blue.

At the foot of the mountains to the north is Clark Dry Lake, which this boondocking area is named for. The dirt road does go out there, but camping isn’t allowed. Actually this whole area is kind of a gray area. On maps it looks like this is all state park land and there are no trespassing signs up on the road in which everyone ignores. In the winter of 2015 the area boondockers were allowed to camp on shrunk, and it’s not impossible to think that someday those signs will be enforced. I’m glad I got here when I did.

That swath of sand just in front of the mountains is the lake bed

I don’t find the rock art. Oh well, this just means I’ll have to try again before I go! Oh darn, what a hardship. The last rays of light look nice on the mountains and clouds to the north as I arrive back at the Casita.

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  1. Clarke Hockwald on February 28, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Becky, if you would like company we’d be happy to take the hike to the snake sculpture with you before we leave next week. It’s about .75 miles from Rockhouse Trail, and you are right…..it is not intuitive! We’ve been there twice this year so far!
    Clarke Hockwald recently posted..“You and me and rain on the roof…..”My Profile

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      That would be fun Clarke! I’m thinking I’ll be leaving on Friday – tanks are getting full. My schedule is pretty fluid so just let me know what works for you.

  2. Cheryl Kline on February 28, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Great pictures Beckey. Not so sure about the home made burner lol

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them Cheryl.

  3. Pamelab on February 28, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Thanks, Becky. Nice photos of the metal art out there! Beautiful desert blooms, as well. Happy Travels!

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Pamela, thanks!

  4. Jodee Gravel on February 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Such a fun and beautiful area. I’ve not seen the miner before – sounds like a good reason to go back and find it!! The flowers are so vivid. It’s going to be a fabulous spring in the desert.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..It’s Not Personal, Prescott!My Profile

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Yes Jodee. I bet it takes a lot of digging to find all 130.

      I’m looking forward to the flower peak, although I’ll probably be moving on from Borrego before it arrives. I’ll hit it somewhere along the way.

  5. Tom on February 27, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Becky,
    I emailed you with coordinates of the rock art, snake and a few photos.

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Tom.

  6. Jeff on February 27, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Always enjoy seeing a familiar area as experienced by another. If you’re looking for the Great Snake and his friends try Google Maps 33.300666, -116.293114, just over the 2nd hill as you enter on Rockhouse Road. I’m waiting for the flowers to perk up a bit more before coming out.

    • Becky on February 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks Jeff. I’m kind of enjoying not knowing exactly where they are actually, it’ll make the experience more sweet when I finally locate them!

      After all the rain again yesterday, I should think the flowers will really take off soon.

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