Anza Borrego State Park is named after the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and ‘borrego‘, the Spanish name for bighorn sheep. Although I have seen bighorn sheep on this trail, and they were spotted here yesterday, the only evidence of bighorn sheep today was their scat. This nature trail is numbered and the printed nature trail guide available at the visitor center and a kiosk at the trailhead acts as your trail docent, informing you of everything along the hike. It was at marker 10 that I looked up and found bighorn sheep in this canyon for the first time. The green leaves on the ocotillo is confirmation that the desert has some rainfall within the month. According to the informative nature trail guide, leaves on the ocotillo plant grow after a rain and fall off after a month of no precipitation. On this trip, marker 8 made me aware of several morteros ground into the granite by the native Kumiai (which I have never noticed before). That is the thing about this hike, every time you do it you see or notice something new. It feels like it is just you and the desert, an explorer looking for your next discovery.
The trailhead for Palm Canyon Trail begins inside Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. This is a patrolled area that is in need of a CA Park Pass. The CA Explorer Park Pass costs $195 annually (more than double the cost of a National Park Pass). We have purchased them in years past but at this cost you really have to do the math to see if it is worth it to have a pass or just pay per visit (even though the money goes to a great organization). This year, however, California libraries partnered with the state parks. Each library has a limited number of CA Park passes that are available for check out. This is the first time we have remembered to take advantage of this system, but it won’t be the last.