Boondocking Rockhouse Road: Borrego Springs, CA

Boondocking Rockhouse Road: Borrego Springs, CA

It was probably in December when my sister shared with me that a super bloom was expected in the California deserts this spring. I didn’t really know if our schedule would line up but it certainly stayed in the back of my mind. The heart of the super bloom was predicted for late February/early March and unfortunately we ended up having plans and reservations elsewhere during that time frame. We were however able to visit the Anza Borrego desert in early February to witness what was called the first pulse of the super bloom. The base camp for our stay near Borrego Springs was a popular free camping area called Rockhouse Trail Road.

THE QUICK DETAILS

  • This is free camping on BLM land with a max stay of 14 days and no on-site amenities
  • GPS: 33.2978, -116.2867
  • The town of Borrego Springs is about 8 miles away with pretty much all you might need: post office, grocery store, liquor store, laundromat, farmer’s market and shopping
  • We were here Feb. 10-17, 2019 and had daytime temps in the low 60s, overnight lows in the 40s
  • The camping area is mostly dirt and gravel and can easily accommodate 50+ rigs
  • Cell service varies greatly throughout the area and we had the best speeds closest to the highway on AT&T
  • You can see more photos and reviews on Campendium
RVs in a dirt lot with mountains
Our view out the living room window

This boondocking site is generally not our preferred way to camp: an open dirt lot surrounded by several other campers, no real privacy and little to prevent someone from parking right next to you – which did happen here…but what can you do, it’s public land and everyone has a right to be here. Best to just enjoy your beautiful surroundings and make a new friend!

There are actually many things we enjoy about this location, the first one being that it’s free and not too far from San Diego. It makes for a nice stop when we’re heading to or from the coast or just looking for a place to ride out some of the winter. The small town of Borrego Springs is quite charming. I’ve really enjoyed their thrift store, the grocery store is well stocked (but lacking in organic produce), and amazingly I found my all-time favorite gluten-free beer at their small liquor store: Uinta Free Form IPA. I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else, not even in Utah! There’s also a farmer’s market on Friday mornings, November - April, which I sadly did not make it to but perhaps they have some organic produce there.

There are lots of interesting hikes and off-road trails in the area that we hoped to check out: Sheep Canyon Hike, Calcite Mine, Wind Caves, Font’s Point and the Pictograph Trail to Smuggler’s Canyon but we didn’t get a chance to explore any of these because we were having engine trouble in our Xterra! They are definitely still on the list for next time. We really enjoyed the short and easy hike right from our campsite to some fun rock artwork – had we known about it sooner that might have been a daily hike!

People near rock art with mountain backdrop
Such a gorgeous backdrop -- we love the low mountains surrounding this area

We also loved checking out the giant metal sculptures at Galleta Meadows. These had been on my travel list for nearly two years – basically since I learned about them right after we visited here the last time! The dragon is definitely the most impressive but they are all really interesting and there’s so much detail in each one. You can find the dragon at GPS: 33.290036, -116.376537 but keep your eyes peeled as you drive around, there are sculptures scattered all over town!

Large metal dragon sculpture
The Galleta Meadows sculptures are by local artist Ricardo Breceda

As I mentioned, we were here at the very start of the superbloom and got to see a wide variety of sweet little desert wildflowers. I found this really great website that gives current information on where to find the best clusters of flowers – definitely bookmark that one!

Petite wildflowers in the desert
Not sure what this one is but it was one of the largest type of flowers we saw
Woman looking at a field of small wildflowers
Parts of the desert were just starting to get color when we visited

Lastly, if you need water or to use an RV dump station, you can use the services at the Anza Borrego State Park Campground for $10. We actually filled our fresh water before coming up here from the Carrizo Badlands area. Brad had found Agua Caliente County Park, where we used the dump and got water for $7 and then took advantage of their hot springs for just $3 each! Pro-tip: the indoor hot pool is adults only from 9:30a-10:30a!

Maggie Pitcher

Hi, I’m Maggie! I enjoy exploring new cities but my real passion is spending time in nature. Hiking, kayaking, and photography all fill my cup to the brim, as does spending time with my sweet little family. We’ve been living and traveling in our motorhome since 2016 and it’s one of the best decisions we ever made. When I’m not scrambling up waterfalls or researching our next stop, I spend my time video editing for our YouTube channel, blogging and taking pictures – we love this way of life and have no plans to stop anytime soon!