Breceda's Eagle Anza Borrego Metal Sculpture

How to Plan Your Visit to Anza-Borrego Metal Sculptures

Listen to a podcast of this travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-5-Anza-Borrega-Metal-Sculptures-e152dma

In the desert of South California, a T-rex erupts from the sand. You thought you just had to worry about falling on one of the various cacti (check out my video on those here!), didn’t you? Don’t worry, the dino is not the human-eating kind, but a sculpture made of metal.

A little further down the road, the T-rex is joined by a prehistoric mammoth and a kneeling camel. The whimsical works come from the fantastical mind of sculptor Ricardo Breceda. Not originally an artist, Breceda created his first sculpture after his daughter watched one of the Jurassic Park films and he created a dinosaur for her. Fascinating!

Anyone can visit the sculptures, located along Borrego Springs Road, but the journey does take some preparation. There is no fee to view the sculptures and the average vehicle (not one low to the ground) can maneuver the dirt off-road parking areas around each art piece. I recently visited and chronicled my journey through video and my social media, check out some of my favorite photos though in this blog!

Before you go

Before you head out on any trip, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared, particularly when traveling in a pandemic.

Aside from packing your camera gear and your favorite snacks, make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Summer weather in San Diego County is temperate, with highs of 77°F/25°C and lows of 62°F/16°C However, the sculptures are located in the desert, with current high’s at over 100°F/38°C so it’s best to bring layers of clothing, a wide-brim hat and sunscreen to help protect you from those golden rays.

The sculptures are mostly visited by car travel, so it may be a little easier to stay socially distant. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing a mask when in public, remaining six feet from anyone outside your part and washing your hands often. Be sure to check the CDC website for the must up-to-date travel tips. 

How the sculptures came to be

Breceda was first commissioned to make sculptures for Galleta Meadows Estate, a large desert property owned by Dennis Avery. Now more than 130 creatures are scattered around Anza Borrego Desert, with new ones occasionally popping up.

The rust-colored sculptures are scattered across 10 square miles. Because the surrounding landscape is barren, it is easy to spot them from far away. 

Some of the most popular sculptures are the sea dragon (or serpent, if you ask some locals!), the grasshopper and the scorpion, and the sloth.

The sea dragon is the largest of all the sculptures and even crosses the road. It stretches across 350 feet and rises to a height of 15 feet. The scorpion and the grasshopper face off in an epic battle, but they are sculpted with intricate detail. The sloths feature fur made of metal and are designed to look like the Harlan Ground Sloth that used to live in the area. Travel post-lockdown left us with lots of travelers, plan your photo sessions well or you might lose out on daylight like I did!

The sculptures are spaced out along Borrego Springs Road, so it’s best to drive to each one. Some portions of the drive require travel along dirt roads, so be sure your car is reliable and has a tank full of gas. Pocket maps can be purchased from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association at the Visitor Center. Borrego Springs has a wonderful town center in between these sculptures, don’t forget to stop and hydrate or grab snacks to stay nourished (I recommend the Boba truck!).

What to do after

If the desert is still calling to you after your drive, you can head to the nearby Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

With the regional stay at home order lifted, California state Parks are reopening, though some precautions still remain in place.

Reservations are required at many Anza Borrego campsites and the visitor center is maintaining limited hours — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Monday — with limited capacity. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with heavy cleaning schedules, so be sure to pack your own hand sanitizer to keep clean.

Park goers are asked to recreate responsibly, including wearing face coverings and maintaining a safe social distance from other hikers. This goes for the sculptures as well.  Be sure to check the most recent state park guidelines before you head out. 

After you’ve fed your wanderlust and creative spirit with a trip to see the sculptures, check out ThereGoesSaraRose.com for more travel tips.

Fern plants in Pinnacles National Park

Top Gems: Hiking Trails in California

Listen to a podcast of the travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep–4-Top-Gems–Hiking-Trails-in-California-e156fl8

Although many of us have picked up new hobbies such as bread making or sewing while at home, it can be a good change of pace to get outdoors. If you’re looking for a safe way to get some sunshine, a hike through one of California’s many parks is a great option.

As lockdown restrictions begin to lift, prepare your hiking boots for some epic adventures. Central California offers an array of hiking spots, but most require a little planning before you hit the trails. 

If you’re stuck for places to try, here are just a few of my favorite California trails.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

This park is one of California’s hidden gems. Located near California Valley, just a few hours from Los Angeles, the plains offers a unique variety of nature. 

Centuries ago, the 204,000-acre park served as grassland where the deer and the antelope played — and some still live there today.  New animals such as kit foxes and antelope squirrel now call the plains home. Wildflowers cover the landscape and it is home to a diverse set of plant life, many of which are endangered.

Hikers can traverse valleys, ridges and ponds along the San Andreas Fault. Some of the park’s most popular spots include grass lands, distant mountain views and Painted Rock, a rock formation with pictograph art. Guided tours to Painted Rock are available at this time, but may be limited or canceled due to nesting birds. 

However, the most popular part of the park is Soda Lake, a normally dry lake bed that concentrates salt water as it evaporates, leaving a substance that looks like baking soda.

If you want to get a sneak peek at what calming views the park has to offer, check out my 360° video of the plains here!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most well-known hiking spots, but there’s a reason for that. The park has been protected since 1964 and offers magnificent waterfalls, glaciers and breathtaking views of the High Sierras. Backpacking typical is a no-go until the snow completely melts, but trails open throughout the year as the season permits. You can check the Yosemite National Park website for up-to-date trail openings. 

If you’re looking for a beginner hike with little elevation, I recommend the Mirror Lake trail. The two-mile hike typically takes about one hour to complete. The first mile is paved and the traversed elevation only reaches about 100 feet, though the lake is more than 4,000 feet above sea level. The trail follows Tenaya Creek and crosses two bridges before offering views of Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins. The view (and the photos) are well-worth it. 

For more advanced hikers, I recommend the Half Dome Day Hike, which offers hikers views of Yosemite Valley from 5,000 feet up. To reach the summit, the hike does include a portion on metal cables, however, which also requires a permit. For a less daring hike, I recommend the Yosemite Falls Trail. A shorter two-mile, paved trail will take you to the base of the waterfall while a 7.2-mile trail takes you to the top of the falls.

Although it offers a variety of hiking trails, it is very popular in the summer. For that reason, reservations to enter the park are required starting May 21, so be sure to plan your journey accordingly. 

Before you go, check out my video from our day trip to Lower Yosemite Falls and see various views firsthand!

Some higher areas in the mountains may still be snowbound and Tioga Road is still closed. Mariposa Grove usually opens by mid-March. Glacier Point Road is also closed (and as a note, it will be closed for the entire of 2022 for rehabilitation). Generally, plan a route that won’t take you above 6,000 feet and check with the rangers to see what is or is not open.

The spring snowmelt makes the waterfalls particularly pretty, especially in the Valley. While it’s generally not clear enough for backpacking without snow camping, there are plenty of day hike options.

Trails near Oakhurst and Raymond, California

Although they don’t boast the same fame that Yosemite does, there are some incredible trails in Oakhurst and Raymond.

If you want to see waterfalls, I suggest Corlieu Falls or Angel Falls. Both trails are moderate with great views of waterfalls and places to relax and soak in the water. Both trail heads have limited parking, so it’s best to go early in the day to get a good spot.

If you’re looking to mix it up, check out Pincushion Mountain. The trail is about five miles, and it can be steep and rocky so good boots are recommended. Along the way, you’ll see mountains, a river valley, and a wide-open sky. Just remember to take it slow and take some breaks along the way.

So, if you’re looking to get off the couch, try out one of these awesome California hiking trails. Be sure to bring plenty of water and check weather conditions before you go. And next time you’re planning a trek, check out for ThereGoesSaraRose.com more travel advice.

How to Prep for a Day Hike in Yosemite in Spring of 2021

Are you longing to get out of the house? As COVID-19 restrictions start to wind down and more people get vaccinated, thoughts of travel are hitting all of our minds. At the same time, you’re probably looking for a safe option.

If you live near Yosemite or another mountainous region, now is the perfect time to take a day hike. You can get in some exercise, see some new stuff, and stay outside and away from others. Spring is a great time to explore the mountains before summer fire season.

Listen to a podcast of the travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-3-How-to-Prep-for-a-Day-Hike-in-Yosemite-in-Spring-of-2021-e155nve

What is Yosemite Like in April and May?

Weather in the late spring is usually pleasant, but not warm. Highs in the valley tend to be in the 60s and lows in the 30s. Rain and snow are still possible, and you should dress accordingly. Fire conditions are possible but less likely than later in the summer.

Some higher areas in the mountains may still be snowbound and Tioga Road is still closed. Mariposa Grove usually opens by mid-March. Glacier Point Road is also closed (and as a note, it will be closed for the entire of 2022 for rehabilitation). Generally, plan a route that won’t take you above 6,000 feet and check with the rangers to see what is or is not open.

The spring snow melt makes the waterfalls particularly pretty, especially in the Valley. While it’s generally not clear enough for backpacking without snow camping, there are plenty of day hike options.

Check out my video from our day trip to Lower Yosemite Falls!

What Should You Do To Prepare For Your Hike?

Preparing for a spring day hike requires some conditioning. You need to know your limits, especially if you’ve been exercising less and have put on any COVID 19-weight, as it were. Do some walks in your local area and increase the distance, and choose a route that you are comfortable with; don’t go from being sedentary to an 8 mile hike. As it’s still spring, you won’t be at altitude anyway, but you still need to be fit.

You will also need the right gear. Dress in layers; the wide temperature range in the spring may mean you will be taking stuff off, putting it on, taking it off again…so make sure you can do that comfortably. You will also need:

  1. The right footwear. This is the most important piece of gear for hiking. Given the risk of rain or snow in the spring, hiking boots are generally your best option. If you’re staying on easier trails, walking shoes or trail running shoes may work well. Think about what kind of ankle support you need.
  2. A fleece jacket or wool sweater makes a good middle layer for the temperature range you are dealing with.
  3. Rain gear including rain pants. You definitely need rain pants. Bear in mind that wet jeans are the worst thing to be stuck in.
  4. Proper socks, ideally ones designed for hiking.
  5. A backpack. If you plan on hiking all day, get a daypack. Otherwise, an ordinary backpack is fine, but do not carry it slung on one shoulder (you will walk one sided and put strain on yourself).
  6. Some kind of hat. If it’s colder, you will want a wool hat. If warmer, you might want something to keep the sun off.
  7. Insect repellent. Make sure that you have and use a DEET-based insect repellent that also repels ticks. Apply repellent to exposed skin, but also to the cuffs of your pants and your hat.
  8. Sunscreen. Even if it’s not that warm.
  9. A hikers’ first aid kit. For casual hikers, a pre-made kit is more than sufficient.
  10. Gloves. You may want them and if you don’t, they’re light.
  11. A camera & gear. Maybe you will find a good smartphone is enough, but a DSLR will still give you better pictures if you want to make the investment. I take a lot of photos on my hikes and encourage you to do the same.
  12. A flashlight, even if you plan on being back well before dark.
  13. Food and water. If you’re really high in the mountains you can get fresh water, but in the park you want to carry enough for your hike.

If you are older and/or the trail is steep, consider investing in trekking poles. Another thing to consider is downloading an app onto your phone that identifies plants, wildlife,  etc.

It’s time to get back out into the world, and a mountain day hike is a great way to do so without worrying about that pesky virus. Watch my video on how to pick hiking boots and please come back to ThereGoesSaraRose.com for more travel advice (and awesome pictures!)