Ahhhhhhh! Out in the Boonies Again – Borrego Springs, CA
So yesterday we decided to take a drive. A drive to the wide, open desert for a spot with a view and a solitude worth dreams. What always amazes me is how easy it is to do something like this. I don’t just mean in an RV, I mean for anybody. One moment we were in bustling San Diego, and a mere 75 miles later we’re in another world. A world of silence, mountains and utter gorgeous remoteness.
Even the drive was fun. We actually did this drive, our very first EVER drive when we started our fulltiming RVing adventure ~2 years ago. At the time we were rather green and rather terrified. You see there’s a few steeper (and rather famous) grades coming from San Diego into Borrego Springs if you take the route through Julian Pie Company in Santa Ysabel (which everyone should, of course…make sure to stop now). One of these is the Montezuma Grade and it’s a beaut of a drive down a long, sweeping and rather steep road with dramatic views of Borrego Valley.
Two years ago we went the long way around to avoid it and marveled at the RV’s we saw coming down such a crazy route. This time around we looked at each other and chimed in unison “oooooo, let’s DO it!!” (the road, that is…not that your mind was in the gutter). And amazingly it was easy, so easy in fact that I marvelled at how terrified we were back then. With the help of our fabulous exhaust brakes and some simple gear management Paul only tapped the brakes a few times on the way down, and we got to soak in the sweeping views in all their majestic splendor. It’s not every road (especially in CA) that we take with such blasé abandon, but Montezuma is in good condition, well-signed and with a reasonable shoulder. We’ll likely take it on the way back too.
And just 6 miles or so outside of Borrego Springs we found our spot. Tucked back between the mountains with only a few RVs in sight (to the back) and a wide, sweeping and completely open view in front of us, the beast settled in for a little R&R. We mixed up a robust rum & coke, kicked back in our chairs and took the time to just sit and soak the whole experience in.
A deep sense of peace, a soft sigh and you know that paradise is right here on earth…and the real beauty of it all is that anyone can come find it!
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
jil mohr says
So how steep were those grades….inquiring minds want to know…the area is on my list…..where exactly are you parked?
The posted sign says 8%, but I think it might get up to 9 or 10% in spots and less in other spots. The entire downhill section is ~11 miles. There are also some steep drop-off sections, but all of it has a small shoulder and a guard-rail. Not a problem for us, but might be a bit curvy for you.
Richard van Dijk says
We are on our way there planning to arrive Friday. We park off S22 about 7-8 miles East out of town.
Oh how cool! That’s very close to where we are! I’ll e-mail you our details. You’re very welcome to come by for an afternoon drink! We’ll be hitting the farmer’s market in the AM, but should be back in the rig by the afternoon.
ann cabezas Creed says
I love to read your posts!! We have a 23 foot Traillite motor home, and plan to come out west from Alabama as soon as we get it all planned and the money saved.
Regards, ann http://www.costaricalearn.com
Barbara - Me and My Dog says
That’s an area I want to visit for a couple of weeks when I’m on the road again the end of February. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂
It is SO nice out there right now. Definitely the right time to visit!
Scott and Lisa Brawner says
Its a nice drive down from Lake Henshaw, Ranchita, and Borrego is beautiful this time of year. We made the same drive from where we live in El Cajon a few months ago. We came back up to Julian on Banner Grade for lunch and back down through Cuyamaca State Park to 8 West back to El Cajon, however I dont think I would try to come up that way with your Motor Home, the road has some real tight switch backs. Hope you enjoy your stay down there. Scott
Totally agree on Banner Grade. It’s another beautiful drive, but we draw the line at that many tight switchbacks with “the beast”. And it IS gorgeous here right now. Weather is winter sunny at just the right temperature. Lovin’ it!
I’ve been following your blog for a couple months. Thanks for all the info and beautiful photos. We’re heading to McDowell Reg Park AZ next week and appreciate all the info you posted. Eventually heading to Death Valley. Hope to run into you guys one of these days. Al and Paul can talk option trading and you and I can drink…..oh, and talk photography 🙂
Oh DEFINITELY hope to meet up with you guys…sounds like our interests align perfectly 🙂
So happy you guys are checking out McDowell. It’s such a great park and I’m sure you’ll love it. We’d most definitely go back there!
We made that trip last winter and absolutely loved it. Want to do it again, if not this winter, next winter for sure. It was our first major trip in the m.h. and was a bit of a nail biter, but we adjusted, ohhhd and ahhhd all the way!
Funny how this was the first trip for both of us! This is such a quirky little spot, but it has so much character!
Jennifer Russell says
Just visiting your blog for the first time! We just recently won an a Passport 2910 BH RV from the Keystone Rv Redisvover America Sweepstakes, so we are new and trying to learn as much as we can! We’re in Pennsylvania! We just started a blog at http://www.rvmama.com. Please visit us too! Look forward to more posts from you guys! Happy Camping!
Wow…winning an RV. That’s pretty cool! Looking forward to seeing more about your trip on the blog.
Your new back yard looks lovely! How peaceful it must be compared to SD. It just amazing me how different each day’s sunset and sunrise is in the desert. Everyone unique and just so beautiful.
It sure is…there’s nothing quite like the desert in winter!
We were there in early 2008 and enjoyed the area very much. Enjoy it all: the solitude, the beauty, the amazing night skies and the wonderful weather! Be safe!
This spot has exactly the same attraction it did for me 2 years ago. Definitely a place to come back to again and again!
We’ve been looking into a trip to Anza-Borrego SP . At this point we are still going the campground route vs. boondocking (just not comfortable enough yet to boondock). Have you stayed in the park there or do you typically head for the hills.
Also, how about snakes and such in the area. If your pooch is like ours, he probably likes to inspect every scrub brush and rock in sight. How do you safeguard your pet. I know here in the Phoenix desert areas the snakes and scorpions are already out in force
The first time we came here we stayed at a private park which had large tracts of free hiking out back. The State Park Campground is very nice BUT they don’t allow dogs on any of the trails so it was a no-go for us (both Pooch and us need a spot where we can hike at least twice a day). Regarding the “critters” we haven’t seen too many of them out here, and didn’t see many when we were here 2 years ago (in Mar/April) either. Our pooch is very good about being careful, but if you’re worried I think the best prevention is simply being aware (same way you’d be hiking on your own). What tends to be a bigger problem here are the Cholla, but being from Phoenix I’m sure you’re aware of those! Our pooch stops and lifts her paw anytime she feels a sticker, but I know many people who buy booties for their pooch to help protect the paws.
Thanks for all the great info on boondocking and places to visit. Just purchased a 37 ft monster and retiring in a few short years. My wife and I have always dreamed of traveling the US and staying in out of the general population campgrounds. We want a room with a view. We will both be young and have plent of time to see the sights. Maybe see you on the road some day.
John & Jenny
Congrats on the upcoming fulltiming! Hope to see ya on the road too!
Jerry B says
I wasn’t too impressed with the Julian Pie Company, I’ve had better locally or even some of the Costco pies. But then, the rest of the town is really neat and worth the drive up the hill to spend the day there.