For adventures and the unexpected, take a day trip to East Coachella Valley and explore Slab City, Painted Canyon, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Grab a bite for breakfast at Red Ocotillo in Borrego Springs, then drive to the Visitor Center and Desert Garden. To see the best sights, go on the 4.5-hour Overland California Jeep Tour or hike Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. For a more leisurely afternoon, picnic inside the park and explore the Cactus Loop Nature Trail at Tamarisk Grove. Drive through the bronze sculptures at sunset and find the perfect spot for stargazing. Spend the night at La Casa del Zorro.
This uncontrolled, unregulated community is on the site of a former U.S. Marine base, east of Niland and the Salton Sea. The “slabs” are the concrete foundations left after all the military buildings were torn down when the base was abandoned in the late 1940s. Since the ’60s, snowbirds with trailers and other seasonal wanderers have made it a winter home. In addition to The Range, an open-air entertainment venue, Salvation Mountain, a multihued, inspirational manmade mountain, is the community’s main draw.
Coincidently, it was the decision by Riverside County officials to evict seasonal campers from Painted Canyon near Mecca in 1965 that sent the first trailers to Slab City. Painted Canyon is one of the more extraordinary natural wonders in a valley filled with them. A great way to experience the colors and rock formations is the 6.5-mile hike through Ladder Canyon, a trek through steep terrain marked by the necessary presence of man-made ladders.