At sunset and sunrise, the Borrego Badlands’ creased and wrinkled ridges cast bold shadows across a maze of golden hills and sand-colored arroyos. As you look across this parched landscape, wrap your mind around this: The whole view was shaped by water. Fossilized seashells found in the region prove that it was once submerged under a blend of salty tropical waters from the Gulf of California and fresh water from the Colorado River. Scientists surmise this brackish sea teemed with aquatic life—home to fish, sea turtles, and sharks.
One of the best places to get a look at the Badlands’ surreal scene is at Font’s Point, nicknamed California’s Grand Canyon. The point is a coveted spot for photographers, especially at sunset or on full-moon nights. If you’re trying to catch that magic light, allow time to stake out a prime spot, and keep in mind that it’s slow going—4WD only—on the sandy and rutted 4-mile/6.4-km-long road to the point. Or leave the driving to others and join a ½- or full-day guided Jeep tour with California Overland Desert Excursions or Borrego Jeep Photo Adventures.
For another perspective from a paved access point, travel to the park’s southernmost badlands at Carrizo Badlands Overlook (on the east side of County Route S-2). Pull off the road, unpack the binoculars, and survey the scene of uplift and erosion.