Southern California Solo Desert Tour: Just the Photos

Hot, dry, desolate, vibrant, bad, good, creepy, calming, inspiring, crazy, and everything in between; this was definitely one of the strangest trips I’ve taken in a while.

From camping in the Yuha Desert near a state prison to tackling the majestic Montezuma Grade in Anza-Borrego State Park, there was a little bit of everything.

Highs and lows.
Hot showers gifted by strangers.
Gut conquering carne asada tortas.
Gourmet “gas station” dinners.
Big headwinds.
Big tailwinds.
Desperate sunset shelter seeking.

But mostly? Quiet.
I turned the dial down and left it there. I rode in silence and squinted into the sun. I went to sleep at 7:30 or 8:00pm and then woke up before the sun, waiting for her.

My camera died for a couple of days, but there’s still a worthy little gang of photos from the whole ordeal.

The General Tour Overview

Day One: Borrego Springs to Yaqui Pass + Dirt Road exploration
40 miles

Day Two: Yaqui Flats to Camp Dunaway
65 miles

Day Three: Camp Dunaway to Bombay Beach
60 miles

Day Four: Bombay Beach to Arroyo Salado Camp in Anza-Borrego State Park
65 miles

Day Five: Rest Day, Arroyo Salado to Borrego Springs to stay with Helen and Daniel
15 miles into the most miserable headwind ever.

Day Six: Borrego Springs to Oak Grove Campground just off of SR 79. This day included the awesome climb up the Montezuma Grade to Ranchita.
45 miles

Day Seven: Oak Grove to Anza
30 miles

13 Responses to “Southern California Solo Desert Tour: Just the Photos”

  1. Markus says:

    Nice trip, great pics, thanks for the insight. Is the elephant always your companion?

    • snarkypants says:

      Markus: Yes! Found him while climbing Santiam Pass on my first tour (last year). He’s mad lucky.
      Gnat and Errin: YESSSSS. You cannot imagine my elation when I came a bend and saw a little ramshackle taqueria waiting.
      Zirkel: indeed! that coffee is one of my key comfort items. along with the down jacket.
      Phil and Sabrina: Thank you!

  2. chr15 says:

    What a wonderful adventure!

  3. Gnat! says:

    That’s a lotta Mexican food. Love it!

  4. Errin says:

    Mexican food. Food of the gods.

  5. zirkel says:

    You can’t go wrong when you combine a steel-framed bike, Stumptown coffee and cheap Mexican food with an amazing desert landscape!

  6. Sabrina says:

    Thank you for all that you do, I love your writing and photos.

  7. Phil Beckman says:

    Sublime, snark. Simply sublime.

  8. Jayne Duvall says:

    Sounds wonderful. Inspiring! I want to copy! How’d you plan this trip? Familiar with the area? I guess I’m asking how this materialized? Beautiful photo as well.

  9. Larry Buehler says:

    Love the pictures. Noticed a solar charger for your Garmin. Can you share the make/model and reviews?

    Thanks so much. Love reading your blog.


  10. margaret says:

    looks like a sick trip. can’t wait till i have the time and money (and endurance) to do some exploring and go on excursions like this myself!

  11. Willy says:


    Lovely photos. I’m a guy and concern for personal safety on this kind of solo journey makes me afraid to do likewise. Did you have the same concern and if so, care to share any tips on how to overcome this sort of fear? Just do it?

    Also, I really enjoyed reading your contribution to Peloton Magazine (#4) writing about this adventure of yours.

    Keep up the great work. Hmmm. liked the Castelli cross suit a lot a lot and want to get myself one but… I dunno about a guy wearing a kit with “Ladies Auxiliary” Something else I ought to get over, maybe? Just do it?

    You are awesome and thanks all the great stuff ;-)

  12. Noelle says:

    Rock on. I knew that Anza Borrego sounded familiar… but forgot where it was.
    YOU WERE IN MY HOOD (kind of) and didn’t tell me!!

    Lovely pictures, fun times.
    As always, rad.