Palm Canyon Flash Flood!

Hiking the Palm Canyon Nature Trail reveals the drama of a massive, 100-year flash flood that raged through here in September 2004. A sudden thunderstorm drenched the mountains above, resulting in a huge waterfall and raging river crashing down the canyon pushing palm trees and boulders along the way. It destroyed several campsites and left the hook-up area under two feet of mud.

For a celebration of New Year’s and the one-year anniversary of our trailer, we raised our Earth flag at Palm Canyon Campground, in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA., and hoped that it would not rain.



Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with its 1600 square miles, is the largest contiguous state park in the United States outside of Alaska, and is now celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The first part of its name is attributed to Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish captain of the historic 1775-76 San Francisco colonial expedition, which passed through the area. The second half of the name, Borrego, is Spanish for sheep. This park is one of the last refuges for the majestic, and endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep (humans have destroyed much of their habitat). This park also often has spectacular, spring wild flower displays.

The weather turned out gorgeous for the most part, so I joined our friends, Michael and Theresa, on a hike up Palm Canyon. I checked the latest weather forecast to make sure there were no flash flood warnings, wore layers of clothing and took water (this time) for safety and comfort.


The Palm Canyon Nature Trail is a three-mile round-trip featuring a native palm oasis. I followed Michael and Theresa as we took in the panoramic view of the canyon near the beginning of the trail. Even here we see evidence of that massive flash flood. Palm trees lay scattered about like headless corpses, having lost their crowns and roots by the tumbling action of the turbulent water as they were brought down the canyon.


One has only to gaze upon the sheer size of the massive boulders that came crashing down the canyon from the floodwaters to appreciate the powerful forces of nature.


(To appreciate the scale: click on the image to see the hikers coming down on right side.)


We’ll rest here for now. Then press on with our journey and explorations up Palm Canyon. We’ll see what’s special about that clump of palm trees seen in back of me, after I enjoy sitting on this log awhile and listen to the trickling creek below.