The tiny town of Borrego Springs, a short drive from the Greater Palm Springs area, might remind you of Palm Springs decades ago—small, open, embraced by the quiet of pristine desert and the darkest, starriest skies imaginable. Not surprising, there isn’t one traffic light—let alone traffic.

It is unquestionably the home of some of nature’s finest desert beauty, but it is also full of some great surprises, from spring wildflowers to charming bistros and art. Annual events range from the decades-old Borrego Days each fall to film festivals, concerts and art shows.

Explore the Beauty

Borrego Springs is home to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California, which attracts visitors with an abundance of historical, ecological and natural beauty astonishments year round. Make a stop at the visitor’s center to get you on your way to exploring these desert lands with both guided and self-guided tour suggestions, from pictograph trails to one of most extensive mud cave systems in the world. An off-road meandering may bring about a spectacular sunrise vista or a moonlight appearance of a kit fox.

The authorized tour company of the state park is California Overland Desert Excursions, offering day tours and overnight adventures into the parkland—and your chance to be a part of the vastness. The military vehicles take guests through wind caves, to look at pictographs and ruins and to see hard-to-reach amazing vistas.

Each spring, you will discover a spectacular display of wildflowers bejeweling your hikes and excursions, but call the park’s 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” at 760-767-4684.

Dinosaurs and Leaping Horses

Art goes well with Borrego’s tempting scenery, delicious for capturing on canvas. Visit several interesting stores and galleries—from the Borrego Springs Art Institute Gallery to the Liesel’s Art Studio and Gallery.

One “outdoor art gallery” will get you doing a double take. Visitors driving around Borrego Springs may think they see a mirage as they encounter dozens of large free-standing metal sculptures of prehistoric animals such as mammoths, giant birds and saber-toothed cats, as well as leaping horses and imaginary creatures spread around the Borrego Springs open space. The heavy-duty sculptures, created by Temecula sculptor Ricardo Breceda, weigh 800 to 1,000 pounds each and were commissioned by the late millionaire Dennis Avery. Avery’s vision was an open desert art museum for all to enjoy, free of charge.

Unwind & Stay Awhile

In this wide open, desolate desert the most unlikely four-star resort has re-emerged, in beautiful symphony with its open desert surroundings. La Casa del Zorro, behind a stately line of tamarisk trees along County Road 3, is a luxury resort spread on 42 desert-planted acres, replete with white adobe-type architecture with clay-tile roofs and oases of pools, fountains and ponds. Stay in poolside rooms or in private casitas with one to four bedrooms and private pools or Jacuzzis.

A good deal of the history of the Borrego Valley can be found within the walls of the resort, despite its recent major renovation. The 1937 adobe ranch house of the old Burks Ranch built on the site became its beginnings as a lodge.  The philosophy of the resort, perfect for romance, de-chilling or family get-togethers, is to design a unique stay for every guest, as laid-back or active as you want. For the active, there is a state-of-the-art fitness and yoga center, six tennis courts, 28 sparkling resort pools and a one-mile jogging walking track. Dining at the resort is an artful culmination of creation and fresh, natural ingredients. Dine in the main Butterfield Room restaurant or in the casual Fox Den Bar.