March 3, 2010

Mountain Palm Oasis at Anza Borrego Desert State Park, CA

The California fan palm is a relict of a wetter time in southern California. Today, it is only found in extremely isolated groves in desert canyons that do not have freezing winter temperatures and sufficient ground water. In fact, they need water at or very close to the surface to survive.

Walking between the palms

In fact, there are only about 100 of these isolated groves, which usually have anywhere from 10-100 palm trees. We've been to several previously at Joshua Tree National Park and Borrego Palm Canyon. Today, we visited Mountain Palm Oasis in the southern Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The sand was wet, but there was no water on the surface.

This is a location where water seeps down from from the 6,000 foot Laguna mountains to the west and then emerges near the surface on the desert floor in these canyons. But, the groves tend to be only about 10-50 individuals. Mountain Palm Oasis is actually five small groves located within 3 adjacent canyons.

Hilina was chasing butterflies on the hike out to the palm oasis

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the United States at 600,000 acres. On Thursday afternoon, we'll be leaving Ocotillo for several nights of dispersed camping within the park.

Cactus blossoms

The wildflowers are beginning to bloom!

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