Scissors Crossing, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

California State Parks

Effectively a parking lot with an access to the Pacific Crest Trail, this is a large, flat, dirt area where camping is permitted. It’s great if you enjoy hiking, but still a good place to park your RV and set up camp for a while. Many campers returning home from Ocotillo Wells will park here for the night and leave the next morning. It’s elevated about 8 to 10 feet up from the road, giving you just enough height to get an extra bar of cellphone signal. It remains relatively peaceful, and just a 30 minute drive from Julian and Borrego Springs.

Scissors Crossing, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Located on the western border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Scissors Crossing lies on the intersection of State Route 78 and County Road S2. It’s most commonly associated as a parking lot for day hikers looking for an afternoon along Pacific Crest Trail. But it’s also open for camping.

Scissors Crossing is not well known as a place for boondocking, yet it offers the closest proximity to Southern California cities and suburbs with a long, generous length of stay.

It’s regularly patrolled by State Park rangers most of whom are particularly concerned about enforcing campfire rules. You are required to contain campfires in a metal container, but you are not allowed to gather firewood. You can only bring in firewood from outside.

Verizon 4G signal is generally weak while driving through this area along SR-78 or S-2, but somehow this parking lot gets an extra bar of improved signal than compared to the roadway.  It’s most likely due to being elevated by about 8 to 10 feet above the pavement.

Amenities can be found in the towns of Julian and Borrego Springs, both of which are a 30 minute drive away. Borrego Springs tend to have better grocery shopping, and a better hardware store. The hardware store has propane tank refill, and there is a dump station at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Super-easy access, plenty of room to park your RV, right next to Pacific Crest Trail, decent Verizon 4G signal, completely free, no flying insects, rats or mice, generally quiet, can hear coyotes howling nearby

Cons: Not much privacy, a fair amount of trash lying around.


None at the campsite, but towns of Julian and Borrego Springs just 30 minutes away. The small village of Shelter Valley has an RV park with a small store and dump station.

Cellphone Signal Strength

Verizon 4G comes in decent here. We generally saw between 2 to 3 bars of signal strength, and that’s without a booster.

RV Dump Station

There is no dump station here, nor any potable water. The closest dump station is at Stagecoach Trails RV Park in Shelter Valley. They charged $22.00 to dump and refill with water. Borrego Palm Canyon Campground in Borrego Springs charges $10.00 to dump and refill.

Insects, Pests, & Wildlife

Almost no pests here. Flying insects are minimal, no mosquitoes. We experienced no issues with mice or rats. You will hear coyotes howling at night.


You will hear traffic going along County Road S-2, though you can definitely tune it out after awhile. On weekends, it becomes more busy with toy haulers heading to and from Ocotillo Wells. Other than that, it’s remains peaceful here.

Safe or Sketchy?

Camping here seems pretty safe. Other drivers do come up here and park, but they’re mostly hikers looking for an afternoon along PCT. It’s been reported that this parking lot is used by drug dealers, however, U.S. Border Patrol and San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies will often cruise up here at night to patrol.

Our experience camping here showed that we could leave our trailer unattended for much of the day and not have any trouble.


There’s no reservations, there’s not even first-come, first-serve. It’s all dispersed camping, you’re on your own.

Any Permits Needed?

None required.

How Crowded Is It?

We camped here in December, and noticed a small number of other campers that would stay for a night or two. For the most part, we were the only campers here. Not secluded camping at all due to the traffic along County Road S2 being able to see you.


California State Parks
Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Tel: (760) 767-4205


Anza Borrego Desert State Park Map, published by California State Parks, 2016.


GPS: 33.1014, -116.4743


Nearest Town: Shelter Valley, CA


Price: Free

Max Stay: 30 days

Amenities: None

Access: County Road S-2 (paved).

Verizon Coverage: Fair, 2/5 bars

Crowded: Mostly empty during the week

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