William Kenyon Overlook

William Kenyon Overlook Hike at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Some of the best vistas of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are easily accessible via a short and sweet 1.25-mile (round-trip) hike just off the CA-78. Enter your next favorite desert viewpoint: the William Kenyon Overlook.

Park at the primitive campground’s dirt lot off Yaqui Pass Road just 2 miles north of the Tamarisk Grove Campground, where you can find some great hikes to add to your mileage (the Cactus Loop and Yaqui Well Trail are both worth a visit). Quick note: Timid drivers may want to get in the passenger seat—the Yaqui Pass Road sharply ascends here, but if you are coming from Borrego Springs, the road is more gradual. The hike, however, is easy on the legs (with just 125 feet of gain)!

Head southwest on the singletrack dirt trail from the campground and make a left onto the connecting loop trail. As you meander through classic desert flora, like cholla, barrel, and beavertail cactus, and around granite outcroppings, you’ll reach the overlook after about a half-mile and a short spur trail that detours from the loop. Here, sitting at 1,750 feet, you’ll find some interpretive signage and a monument to the trail’s namesake: Bill Kenyon was a former supervisor of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The vista here is absolutely incredible, and as with many famous desert overlooks, is best enjoyed early in the morning or late afternoon to get that phenomenal golden hour effect.

As the sign notes, you are overlooking the Mescal Bajada, which slopes down the grade and is named after the many mescal (agave) plants that dot it, flowing down from the impressive Pinyon Mountains. The most prominent peak on the left edge of your view is Sunset Mountain, naturally best viewed at (you guessed it) sunset! You’ll also read that after heavy rains, 35 arroyos feed into the San Felipe Wash all the way to the Salton Sea. Stick around and perch on a boulder to enjoy the incredible sweeping views of the expansive desert floor, but also scan the surrounding rocky outcroppings to see if you can spot an elusive peninsular desert bighorn sheep, which have also been known to frequent the area. Continue the loop along the path that parallels the road all the way back to your car. After such a high reward for a lower-effort hike, kenyon believe it?

To get to the William Kenyon Overlook Trail from Borrego Springs, head south on Borrego Springs Rd. for just over 5 miles and take a right onto Yaqui Pass Rd. After 4.6 miles up the grade, the primitive campground and trailhead will be on your left. No dogs!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

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