BORREGO SPRINGS | GALLETA MEADOWS
The road trip from Palm Desert to Galleta Meadows was speckled with rolling hills, dramatic crevices, and a few ocotillos -- a nod to the recent Super Bloom. We saw a couple four wheelers and an off road motocross trail, but other than that the drive is quite rural, i.e. make sure to fill up on gas beforehand.
We drove into Galleta Meadows blindly, but what you should do is drive into Borrego Springs and visit the visitor center. They gave us a map of the sculpture area and recommended areas where the super bloom might still exist (4-wheel drive only). This area around Christmas Circle also has several restaurants, a gas station, and public restrooms if you should need them.
Before You Go:
Bring: Water bottles, snacks, a full tank of gas, close-toed shoes, sunscreen, and empty memory card so you can take ~all the pics~.
Expectations: Be prepared to do a lot of driving to see all the statues in an afternoon. Some of the statues are smaller than others, but those are usually grouped together. I enjoyed the larger ones: the dragon, grasshopper, scorpion, elephant, camels, and jeep -- but there's still fun to be had taking photos of the others.
Other People: We went on a weekday afternoon, and saw very few people. The dragon is popular, so there were some families there -- but other than that we had most of the statues to ourselves.
Bathrooms: Nonexistent near any of the sculptures. If you reference the map/picture below, inside the roundabout called "Christmas Circle Community Park" you'll find bathrooms.
This sign stands at the edge of Christmas Circle, facing the Visitor's Center. The city is completely surrounded by the Anza-Borrego State Park, and therefore offers a wide range of outdoor activities. One of the most interesting are the Borrego Night Sky Tours. Borrego Springs is an International Dark Sky Community - one of only two in the world - so this tour is highly unique and I'm sure 'out of this world'.
Galetta Meadows + Sculptures
Artist: Ricardo Breceda
The sculptures were created by California based artist, Ricardo Breceda. He first began sculpting after seeing Jurassic Park 3 with his daughter. When she asked for her own dinosaur, his inner artist revealed itself and the rest is history. Breceda was commissioned by the late-owner of the Galleta Meadows land, Dennis Avery, to build the installations. There are several themes: desert wildlife, extinct wildlife, and local history and culture.
All of the sculptures, for the most part, can be seen from the main road. For those wanting to take a closer look, there are also dirt roads leading up to them with plenty of room to park. We visited on a Friday afternoon, and I was surprised when we were the only people at most of the sites. The serpent and scorpion had a few people around them, but we had all the other sculptures to ourselves.
While we were glad to have some people around to take our picture, having the rest of the artwork alone was refreshing. It gave me a moment to take in the landscape and the sculpture's location in that landscape. Next to the mountains and the oversized animals and figures, it reminded me of how small I am. The remoteness and stillness of the work and the beauty of the surroundings led my mind to wander about this place before people, and how it probably hasn't changed that much. Nature will keep being Nature whether we're here or not.
1946 Willy's Jeep
The only piece that technically had type on it. While I would have found some excuse to write about the sculptures, this gave me legit reason. I thought Willy was a person with some significance to the Meadows, but a quick Google search has let me know that 1) My car knowledge is garbage and 2) the Willys Jeep was, I think, one of the first jeeps made for civilians. I'm not entirely sure what significance it has to this location, but it was a very well-made piece with a lot of attention to detail.
Naturally we had to take some pictures with the sculptures! It's important to understand the scale to realize how completely awe-inspiring they are. They're so much fun to photograph and be around.
Evidence of Super Bloom
Borrego Botanical Garden There were a few yellow flowers sticking around for us stragglers. If you are more interested in the local flora, there is a not far from the sculptures. It's maintained by the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, which also hosts a bunch of activities for locals and visitors. On that website you can see their calendar of events and different offerings they have.
Make a day of it:
Borrego Springs has a lot to offer: hiking, gardens, golfing, and of course, food. Besides what I've mentioned above, here are some more ways to spend your time there:
Golf at De Anza Country Club: Offers day passes for $10 (plus Green fees) and includes access to the practice range and all country club facilities.
Hike to Slot Canyon: I did not do this, but it looks awesome. Ask about it at the visitor's center, and see some tips and pictures on California Through My Lens' blog.
Hike Hellhole Canyon: If you have some more time (3.5 hours) this hike looks awesome. I would again refer to California Through My Lens for more information.
Eat at Kesling's Kitchen: Try the cactus and green chili soup!
Get some Culture at the Borrego Art Institute: Conveniently attached to Kesling's Kitchen, you can stroll through galleries and peruse the gift shop.
If you're in driving distance of Borrego Springs, I would highly recommend going out there to see Galleta Meadows. The statues are very well done, and very fun to photograph. From here, we drove about 1.5 hours to East Jesus (see my blog post here) to catch it before sunset.