After picking up Medjool Dates and heirloom tomatoes at the Borrego Springs Christmas Circle farmers’ market, we traveled north on Borrego Springs Road to Galleta Meadows. There have been reports that Gomphotherium have been spotted there, so we brought along The Anza-Borrego Desert Region: A Guide to the State Park and Adjacent Areas of the Western Colorado Desert, by Lowell & Diana Lindsay, 5th Edition, 2006, Wilderness Press. This guide points out that Galleta Meadows is named for the coarse and stiff Galleta grass (Pleuraphis rigida), that grows in clumps, 2 to 4 feet high, making a good forage plant for browsing animals.
Indeed, as we approached Galleta Meadows, Gomphotheriums appeared to be grazing.
We parked the truck a safe distance away and consulted our guide.
Diana Lindsay, in her book (based on her Master’s thesis, edited by Richard Pourade), Our Historic Desert: The Story of the Anza-Borrego Desert, 1973, A Copley Book, writes that millions of years ago, this area was covered with seawater, extending from the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez). Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (the largest contiguous state park in the United States outside of Alaska) is located in Southern California’s Colorado Desert, a part of the Sonoran Desert. While crossing the Colorado Desert in 1775, Father Pedro Font recorded seeing signs of former maritime life here, including many piles of oyster shells (see this Fonts Point video). Many land fossils found in this park date from about two to three million years ago, and include the remains of mastodons, ground sloths, camels, horses, wolves and musk oxen. This is illustrated in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitors’ Center.
It is also illustrated by life-size steel, free-standing art structures, such as the Gomphotheriums above, created by artist, welder, sculptor Ricardo Breceda and commissioned by Galleta Meadows Estate owner, Dennis Avery, for his property and open to the public. The area draws many visitors, especially during the spring desert wildflower season.
These sculptures, such as the Giant sloth below, represent vertebrates of the past that inhabited the Anza-Borrego region during the Pliocene, Pleistocene and Miocene eras.
Along with mother and baby ground sloth…
And mother and baby camel (Camelops)…
with a Christmas ribbon on its tail.
See desertusa.com’s video of these sculptures at the Galleta Meadows Estate.