Some friends told us that Borrego Springs was a must see sending us photos of large sculptures of prehistoric creatures that had lived and left their fossil remains in the Borrego Springs area starting about seven million years ago when this area was a wet, jungle-like forest. So, unable to resist, we headed for Borrego Springs, California.
There is an interesting story about the large iron sculptures of Borrego Springs. The heir to the Avery Dennison label fortune, philanthropist Dennis S. Avery, bought a substantial amount of property in Borrego Springs, California during the savings and loan crisis period of the 1980s and 1990s when land values dropped precipitously. He kept almost all of this land undeveloped, unfenced and open to the public and named it Galleta Meadows. During Spring each year, many folks would enjoy the annual flower bloom that can be seen there.
A man of many interests, Avery commissioned ‘Perris Jurassic Park’ Mexican owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda to create steel welded sculptures that would reflect the paleontological history of the area based on drawings from a book about fossils found in the Anza-Borrego Desert. He dubbed these huge hammered iron sculptures “Sky Art” and the first of these amazing, intricate sculptures was installed in 2008 on the Galleta Meadows land. There are three non-contiguous square miles of desert comprising the Galleta Meadows land that has these wonderful iron sculptures scattered about. Folks are quite surprised and delighted as they drive along Borrego Springs Road or S78, etc., to see just off to the side of the road is a Sabertooth Cat or a Colombian Mammoth.
The fossils of these animals have been found nearby in some of the most extensive fossil sites in North America.
There are sculptures of creatures such as the giant bird Aiolornis, the Colombian Mammoth, camels, the elephant-like Gomphothere, and the Sabertooth Cat.
The project of iron sculptures apparently evolved over time. Most of the sculptures reflect the paleontological history of the area but some later sculptures of the 129 works are pure whimsy such as an amazing 350-foot sea serpent that appears to burrow under the road and emerge on the other side from under the desert sands having the head of a dragon and a tail like a rattlesnake. Also, some of the sculptures reflect the more recent history of the area to include a few human figures such as a gold miner, a Spanish padre, a Native American, a farm worker and even an occupied Willys Jeep.
Much of the iron of these huge sculptures has weathered and rusted and has now taken on an almost life-like leathery patina. The sculptures are strongly anchored in cement and steel but when the wind is blowing sometimes there is very slight movement and the sound of the wind adds to the experience.
–How to see the Sculptures–
Since the sculptures are along the roadways you will likely see them as you drive into Borrego Springs. The Rangers in the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center in Borrego Springs were very helpful in directing us to the various locations of these amazing iron-welded sculptures. Also there is a location map at the website: http://galletameadows.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=93. You can park along the side of the road and walk right up to the sculptures to take pictures though some are quite a distance from each other. If you choose to walk, since it is the desert, watch for rattle snakes. You can also drive on the sandy desert roads that criss-cross the area to the various sculptures as many people do to get up close for photos.
One of the wonderful things we noticed about the sculptures is that we saw no evidence of vandalism and no “tagging”, nice!
All of Galleta Meadows land is open to the public. Boondocking on the land is allowed for up to three days but, of course, there are no services such as trash pick-up, RV dump site, etc. so pack it out.
This is desert land so I would think that the heat of the summer would rule out summer boondocking. We have read that the temperature here gets as high as 124 degrees F. in the summer!
If you boondock here (and we did) know that Borrego Springs has been designated as an “International Dark Sky Community” so there are no street lights. If ever there was a chance to enjoy the night sky without light pollution this is the place. Also, at night we could hear the coyotes yipping and howling.
We were unable to get any English language TV channels with our TV antenna. Our internet connection, however, was excellent. Despite being surrounded by mountains, our Verizon/Samsung/Millenicom got a strong, excellent, fast wi fi signal and the Verizon cell phone had a strong connection as well.