A day at Agua Caliente

Spikes of Ocotillo were silhouetted by glowing and changing pastel colors of red, orange and finally yellow under the deep blue sky as the sun began to rise on the southeastern horizon each morning during our stay at Agua Caliente County Park, 111 miles from San Diego in the Anza-Borrego Desert region.


Distant Vallecito Mountains to the north began to bask in the warmth of the sun while the trailer still rested in the chilly shade.


Finally, glorious rays of golden sunlight streamed into the trailer while I savored my first cup of freshly brewed joe, nice, hot refreshment perfect for waking up on a chilly morning… almost as good as hot, hot… hot chocolate!


We start the days by walking the dogs and taking turns hiking the trails.  Since dogs are not permitted on the trails, one of us stayed with the dogs while the other one hiked.  For safety, we have our two-way radios turned on.  Starting before it got too hot, I explored the Moonlight Canyon Trail.  I started at the eastern side of the park, where the trail heads east before looping southward below the campground and through a canyon.  I saw wonderful vista views and many ocotillo as I headed east.


This part of the trail is wide enough for a golf cart to travel on and gradually increases in elevation as it turns south.  The southern portion the trail narrows to a footpath as it leaves the warm sunlight and enters the shade where cool morning air pours down from the steep granite canyon walls.


Water seeps down into this canyon from the Tierra Blanca Mountains promoting lush growth of plants that need to be hacked back periodically by volunteers and park staff to keep the trail open.


I could hear water trickling and frogs at times, but a swarm of bees seemed to claim a portion of the trail ahead as I rounded a bend, convincing me to turn back.  I obliged and went back to the campground the way I came and explored this trail at its official beginning in the southern part of the campground, where it steeply and unpleasantly goes uphill and into the sun by mid-morning.

On other days, I explored more features of this campground area, including its water features, store, wildlife, and other trails.  But that is another story.  After a morning hike, I enjoyed the park’s hot showers that cost 1 quarter per 2 minutes.  Afternoons were spent reading and relaxing.  The sun disappeared behind a nearby mountain by 3:15 pm and the temperatures quickly dropped.


Coyotes, the children of the desert night, could be heard as the waxing moon rose and the bright stars reappeared as we enjoyed listening to classical music such as this while watching the moon traverse the sky through the Safari’s Vista View windows.


  1. says

    Reading a blog entry like this one is almost as good as being there. Thanks for capturing some of the experience of being out in the desert.

  2. insightout says

    According to Spanish 101, ‘agua caliente’ = hot water. Is there any source of water in the park ? Beside the showers at 25 cents for two minutes ?

  3. Bill D. says

    Rich and insightout, thanks for your comments.

    The natural hot springs here supply water for the pools and spa. Overflow water from the springs can be seen trickling through the park. I’ll post more about this, along with photos in a future blog entry.