Anza Borrego is just a little bit outside our usual radius for one night camping trips (a two hour drive is our usual limit and this is more like three) but we had a group of friends going and we decided to join in. It's not the right time of year for the desert, but we checked the weather and it was gorgeous and since it was off season we could just roll in without reservations and still have our pick of the campgrounds.
It was such a refreshing trip. The weather was in the 70s during the day and then just chilly enough at night to need another layer. We were a little nervous when the wind picked up pretty strongly in the afternoon, but it died out completely the second the sun went down. The moon was so full that we didn't need headlamps and we sat around the fire until midnight.
On Saturday we hiked the Palm Canyon trail, which goes right out of the Borrego Palms campgound and ends in an amazing palm oasis and on Sunday we walked through the slot canyon on our way out of the park. If you come, don't miss the visitor's center, which is really well done.
We originally intended to stay in the Tamarisk Grove campground so we all met up there. It is a really nice, very small campground with the most adorable little cabins you can rent for $60/night (or regular campsites for $25). All the sites have shade structures over the picnic tables. The wind tends to be stronger here, though, so when we talked to the ranger and heard that Borrego Palm campground was nearly empty, we headed over there instead. We ended up staking out spaces 85 and 87, which are nice because they're on the outer ring. We had more than enough room for five tents.
FYI - the bathrooms at both Tamarisk Grove and Borrego Palm are nice. Running water, skylights, showers. It felt pretty luxurious.
As usual, camping in state parks with dogs can be tough. They're allowed in the campgrounds but not on the trails. This is trickier during warm months when we won't leave Circe in the car. For the hikes, someone has to skip out and stay at the campground with the dogs (in large groups this often works out okay). We usually assess the hike and then we'll sometimes take Circe in her backpack. It's not ideal because we can't let her down at all, so I wouldn't do this for long hikes where she might get overheated or bored. I didn't mind doing it for the slot canyon hike because it was more of a short walk and partially shaded. It did get a little tricky in the narrow sections! This is definitely technically against the rules, so we're aware that we might get a citation for it at some point. Our goal is always to be respectful of the wildlife, so if there's a chance that Circe being present, even in a backpack, will disturb that, we opt out. But if the issue is her being down on the ground, then we'll happily carry her. She is such a great camping dog, super mellow and easy-going, and she did particularly well this trip.