Yes, for the most part you can camp anywhere in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, as long as your vehicle remains on established roads and trails, and pulls into previously used campsites and clearings. But no, there are also places that are off-limits to camping, including day-use areas.
Can You Camp Anywhere in Anza Borrego?
Anza Borrego Desert State Park is one of the few state parks in California that permits free, open, “backcountry camping”, without having to obtain a permit. It’s also one of more popular areas for boondocking in California. For that matter, yes you can camp anywhere in Anza Borrego. But there are, of course certain rules that limit where you can camp, including where you can drive your RV or camper.
You can set up camp just about anywhere in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, for free, except for the following areas…
- Directly on trails and roads
- Day use areas, such view points and monuments
- Within 100 feet from a natural water source (springs, creeks, ponds)
- In developed campgrounds where fees are paid.
- In places where signs are posted prohibiting camping
The same is generally true for RVs and vehicles.
Click here to view the official road map of Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Click here to view the official Anza Borrego Desert State Park visitor information guide.
Best Places for Boondocking in Anza Borrego
Blair Valley – large area off of County Road S2, just a mile east of Shelter Valley. Very popular area, has pit toilets. Weak Verizon 4G signal, however. (Blair Valley, on FreeRoam)
Slot Canyon – Dispersed camping area for small to medium sized RVs. Popular for hikers planning to crawl through the slot canyon (Slot Canyon, on Campendium)
Peg Leg Road – Lots of free camping on a wide clearing on the east-side of Peg Leg Road. This is technically outside of Park boundaries, on BLM land. State Park rules do not apply here. Very popular area in Winter. (Peg Leg Road, on Campendium)
Carrizo Valley – In the southern portion of the park, along County Road S2. This is technically outside of Park boundaries, on BLM land. State Park rules do not apply here. (Carrizo Valley, on Campendium)
Scissors Crossing – This is on the far-west side of the Park, still inside Park boundaries. Located at the intersection with County Road S2 and State Highway 78. This is parking lot for hikers on Pacific Crest Trail, but boondocking permitted here. (Scissors Crossing, Boondocker’s Bible)
Vehicles and Off-Roading
You must drive only on established roads and trails. You are not allowed to drive off-road, nor over natural habitats, plants, or archaeological remnants. You can camp in your RV just about anywhere in Anza Borrego Desert State Park as long you use previously-used campsites, or clearings free of vegetation.
The California Vehicle Code applies to all roads in the park, including dirt, sandy wash, or pavement. All vehicles must be highway legal; you cannot ride quads, side-by-sides, dirt bikes, other OHVs.
Campfires and Firewood in Anza Borrego
All firewood must be brought in from outside the park. You are not allowed to gather dead plants, branches, or tree trunks, found lying on the ground. Moreover, all fires must be contained in a metal container. You cannot light a fire in a circle of rocks on the ground.
What is the Maximum Time Limit for Camping?
Anza Borrego Desert State Park allows you to “backcountry camp” for no longer than 30 days. You can move your camp to other areas of the park, as long as the combined time of camping does not exceed 30 days. After that, you are not allowed to backcountry camp anywhere in the park for one full year.
Rules for Pets at Anza Borrego
Dogs are not allowed on trails or in wilderness areas. They are only allowed on park roads, and even then only on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Dogs are generally frowned upon by park rangers. Dog poop and pee will confuse coyotes and cause them to abandon their territory and move into other potentially unwanted areas.
Boondocking Inside the City of Borrego Springs, CA
There is no boondocking or camping allowed within the City of Borrego Springs, CA. There is an area along Peg Leg Road (see Best Places for Boondocking in Anza Borrego, above), north east of the city limits, where many boondockers camp. It’s BLM land there. This is the only place close to town where you can legally boondock.
Note: Many people have been camping in the Galleta Meadows area off of Borrego Springs Rd (County Road S3). This is where most of the metal sculptures are. This is private property, and camping is not allowed here. Sheriff’s deputies will remove you from the land, if the property owner, or the City complains.