Where the Wild Things Are: Anza-Borrego Edition

No doubt, the desert is an extraordinary place.

All around you is a striking landscape that varies wherever your head turns. Soaring mountain ranges. Deep desert valleys. Chiseled canyons. Lush palm oases.

But, you know what else abounds here? Some pretty fascinating creatures!

Here are some of our favorite animals that we share the desert with. Since these animals have more than 600,000  acres to roam in, consider yourself lucky if you spot any of them while exploring Anza Borrego:

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Photo: Sam Webb

Photo: Sam Webb

The endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep is the animal that visitors most want to see when they’re in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  And, we can’t blame them. This beautiful creature mostly lingers on rocky low elevation areas and near water sources during the summer months. The park deliberately closes portions of the desert so that the sheep can get to these water sources without fear of human visitors. While the bighorn is endangered mostly due to loss of habitat and disease, there is a great population of them in the protected park.

Want to see one? Here’s a secret tip: A good place to spot one is along Palm Canyon Trail, just at the west edge of Borrego Springs.

Kit Fox

Photo: Mark Chappell

Photo: Mark Chappell

Definitely one of the cutest creatures of the night, the desert kit fox is North America’s smallest member of the dog family. Don’t expect to see kit foxes during any of your day adventures as they spend the hottest parts of the day in their underground dens. Most surprising about the kit fox is the striking size of its ears, which is a desert adaptation that allows them to stay cool. Another amazing adaptation for desert survival is their ability to glean most of the water they need from the food they digest. In fact, they rarely have to drink water!


BobcatThe most elusive animal of the desert, the secretive bobcat usually hunts at night and is rarely spotted. About double the size of a domestic cat, bobcats are pretty adaptable, and can vary their hunting style and diet with any given environment.

They’re best known for being outstanding predators. They approach their prey slowly and patiently than pounce for the kill in a powerful leap. Their usual targets are jackrabbits, birds, insects and rodents.

Black Tailed Jackrabbit

Black Tailed JackrabbitIf you see a shooting blur of ears dashing past you in the desert bushes, then you may have just spotted the black-tailed jackrabbit. They’re pretty common throughout the Anza Borrego Desert, and are most recognized for its extremely long back legs and oversized ears. Like most desert animals, they get most of their water from the plants they eat, including shrubs, grass and trees.

During the hottest parts of the day, the jackrabbit will spend its time resting in cool, shallow depressions in the sand. And, just like cottontail rabbits, the jackrabbit has the ability to run at a super speed of up to 30mph when it feels threatened. Most of the time, they’ll run off in a zig zag pattern. Don’t bother trying to capture this on camera. It’ll happen so fast, so better to just enjoy the brief interaction as is.


CoyoteThe ultimate survivors, coyotes can survive in almost any North American environment, whether stark deserts, lush mountains, or urban cities.

Not only are coyotes intelligent and cunning, they’re also very social creatures and live in basic family structures consisting of an adult male and female and cubs. Their varied and high-pitched sounds are usually to call their group together and to establish the position they hold in their family. You have the highest probability of spotting a coyote more than any other animal throughout your time in the desert. They can be found almost anywhere –  in the open desert, across a highway, or sitting at the edge of a golf course.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Mule deer are usually spotted in higher elevations of the desert where they forage on woody vegetation and leafed plants around dawn and dusk. During the hottest parts of the day, mule deer will usually rest in secluded areas not too far from where they forage and from water sources.

Antelope Squirrel

Antelope Squirrel - Alan and Elaine WilsonOne of the few desert animals that is actually active during the heat of the day is the antelope squirrel. You’ll usually find them dashing from bush to bush with their tail held high arching over their backs. Their bodies tolerate temperatures of up to 108 degrees. In fact, this is the highest temperature tolerance of all mammals! They’ll stay out in the heat while collecting food until their bodies reach the max temperature, then they’ll rest in the shade and stretch their body on a cool surface until their temperature is lowered. You’ll find them nibbling on their favorite foods of cactus fruits, insects and seeds.


When the animals of Anza Borrego venture out at night, you can retreat into the sumptuous rooms at La Casa del Zorro for a night of delicious dining and decadent sleep.

Book a stay with us now!

Borrego in Bloom

Brilliant pops of color are soon to be sprouting in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.


Due to lackluster amounts of rain this winter, we’re not expecting huge displays of flowers as previous years. But, don’t fret. One thing we’ve learned

from living in the desert for decades is to never underestimate what Mother
Nature has in store for us!
Thousands of wildflowers or not, Anza Borrego is at its most beautiful in
Besides the pretty scene that unfolds around us, guess what our favorite part
of the wildflowers is? Meeting all the people visiting the desert, especially the

To make the most of your wildflower-seeking experience, we’re answering the most frequently asked questions from visitors:

How Many Wildflowers Should I Expect to See?


The timing and lushness of the wildflowers depend heavily on the amount of
rainfall and the weather. This all means that each year’s wildflower bloom is
unique in its profusion, timing and variety.
For larger blooms, the desert needs winter rain in small doses. Not enough
rain offers a pretty poor environment for the seeds to germinate. And, if
there’s too much rain, the seeds could be washed away or rot!
Adding to the wildflowers’ fickleness, the temperature also has to be just
right. Usually warm days can predict a full bloom. But, if it gets too hot in late
winter and early spring, the seeds can easily become scorched or parched.
So, if the stars align, as they have so often done in years before, you’ll find
wildflowers blossoming at the park’s higher elevation and on the desert floor.

Can I Take Some Wildflowers Home With Me?

In short – No!
The wildflowers in Anza Borrego are protected by law, and can’t be cut or
dug up. The same goes for ALL of the plants in Anza Borrego Desert State
Park, such as the yuccas, cacti, agave and ocotillo. Besides, the kindest thing
you can do for the desert wildflowers is to allow them to live and thrive in
their native environment. So, enjoy, take pictures and revel in their fleeting
beauty – but, don’t pick!

Which Areas are the Best to Spot Desert Wildflowers?

Off of County Road S-22 that links Salton City and Ranchita
Borrego Springs Little Surprise Canyon, Desert Gardens, Borrego Palm
Canyon, and Coyote Mountain
Off of Highway 78 linking Banner and Trifolium
Hawk Canyon, Mine Wash, and Elephant Trees Area
Off of County Road S-2 linking San Felipe and Ocotillo
Fossil Canyon and Rainbow Canyon
Off of County Road S-3 that links Borrego Springs and Highway 78
Glorietta Canyon

What Flowers Will You See In These Locations?

Mountain foothills and above
In higher elevations, plants don’t blossom until early summer or late spring.
Starting from the mountain foothills and higher, you may find Desert Agave,
Wolf’s Cholla, Chamise, Froebell’s Four o’clock, Desert Apricot, and California
Desert valleys
During springtime, everyone seems to love Desert Chicory, Desert Sand
Verbena, and Dune Evening Primrose. But, also don’t miss out on many
members of the Sunflower family, such as the Thick-Leafed Groundcherry,
Ghost Flower, Rock Daisy, and Desert Star.

When Is the Best Time to Enjoy Them?

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer, since conditions vary
greatly each year to the next.
Most often, the second week in March is generally the peak time in spring to
see the wildflowers. For more immediate wildflower updates, see the
‘Information’ section below.
If you’re close enough, head to the desert after rainfall. Usually two weeks
after it rains, watch for Chinchweed in the desert valleys, new green leaves
on branches of Ocotillo, swaths of red and yellow Fringe Amaranth up in the
mountain fields.

Where Is the Best Place to Go for More Information?


The Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association updates their Website
with the latest crowd-sourced wildflower sightings, along with pictures and
personal accounts and recommendations for hikes.
You can also sign up for email updates from Anza Borrego Foundation, the
non-profit educational organization connected to the state park. Or, call the
Wildlflower Hotline at (760) 767-4684.
Once you’re in the desert, stop by the Visitor Center, located on Palm Canyon
Drive just east of Borrego Springs. You’ll find books, brochures, scientific
exhibits and photos of the Park’s fauna, flora, human history and geology. Plus, find out more about the desert’s walking and hiking trails, picnic spots,
campgrounds and self-guided tours.

What If I Miss Out On the Wildflowers?

Truthfully, an amazing day in the desert is awaiting you – wildflowers or no
wildflowers. Spring is undoubtedly the desert’s loveliest season. Besides the
wildflowers, you’ll find miles and miles of hiking trails, palm groves, washes,
cacti and gorgeous, sweeping vistas. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot
kit foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep and roadrunners.

20140101_144006 SM

Channeling Your Inner Fox For a Romantic Valentine’s Weekend!

We’re simply smitten for Valentine’s Day and the way it urges people to channel their foxier and more romantic selves.

Here at La Casa del Zorro, we’re masters at making love legendary.

From the roaring fireplaces in every room, to the incredible, star-filled sky above, our resort was meant for timeless romance.

So make your reservation and prepare for a sumptuous Valentine’s weekend unlike any other.

How can La Casa del Zorro bring you and your beau closer together? Let us count the ways:

Fireside Chats

1422412_565983863471009_1599536602_nStrike a match and watch the flames flicker through the night. Search high and low – there’s nothing more mesmerizing than watching a fire with someone you love. And lucky for you, our rooms and private casitas have their very own fireplaces. So whether you curl up on the sumptuous bed or lay out a blanket for a cozy indoor picnic, a roaring fireplace will guarantee a night aflame with romance.

Private Pools (or Jacuzzi) Sessions

IMG_0014There’s no sweeter luxury than privacy.  And, that couldn’t be more true than at La Casa del Zorro. Don’t feel like sharing walls or having anyone down the hall? La Casa del Zorro is infamous for having private casitas to heighten your desert experience, and they have been likened to full-size ranch homes. Each casita is named after desert flora and not only have ample amount of space and roaring fireplaces, but each comes with either a private pool or private Jacuzzi. Imagine late night dips, or early morning swims with no one else to worry about than each other. Leave the kids at home. This pool belongs to you.

Dining Decadence


All you need is love? Sure, but you need a night of delectable food, too. Leave the packed, overbooked and noisy restaurants to the other couples. After a day of traipsing through the desert, you and your significant can settle down for a quiet dinner in La Casa del Zorro’s historic Butterfield Room. Let us do the work at wooing with Executive Chef Kurt Hauser’s gourmet California cuisine and our sophisticated setting of white table clothes, twinkling candlelight, dark aged wood and warm adobe walls.

On both Friday, Feb. 14 and Saturday, Feb. 15, treat your sweetheart to Chef Kurt’s Valentine’s Dinner Menu, the ultimate romantic 3-course meal.  Options will make your mouth water, including Seared Baja Dorado in Cilantro & Broiled Giant White Shrimp, Lobster Bisque with Truffles, and Petite Filet Mignon and Alaska King Crabmeat with Asparagus. Feel free to indulge in our regular dinner menu as well! The next morning, get a sweet start with Blueberry Honey Wheat Granola Pancakes or a decadent helping of our Strawberry and Cinnamon French Toast. Book your Valentine’s Dinner and call 760-767-0100.


Starry Skies (1)Looking for a guaranteed way to leave them lovestruck? Score major brownie points when you treat your loved one to the most dazzling show in the desert. Just look up and you’ll find a stunning showcase of bright stars up above every night. Our luminous skies ablaze with thousands of stars are a sight for the ages, and when you’re a guest of ours, you have front row seats.  USA Today named us one of the Top 10 Stargazing locations in the country, and our region is one of the nation’s official Dark Sky Communities, the only one in California! Grab a blanket, cuddle up close, and wish upon a star.

Wild Flower Picking

59935803_1b5d06eb2d_oLove blooms in Anza Borrego. And, you know what else? Colorful, bejeweled wildflowers! Locals and visitors alike head to our desert to see the spectacular display of wildflowers that blossom annually between Feb – April and sprinkle vibrant colors throughout the desert landscape.  It’s all about timing, though. Anza Borrego’s wildflower phenomenon depends heavily on the amount of rain earlier in the winter, and the blossoms hit their peak for only two weeks. To hit the timing just right, call the 24-hr Wildflower hotline at 760-767-4684, or visit the Anza Borrego Desert Natural History Association for frequent updates.

Have a foxy, Valentine’s getaway and book your room today!


How A Desert Vacation Can Make You Healthier

Was one of your 2014 resolutions to get healthy, or take more “me” time?

If so, it’s easier than ever to fill this year with healthy habits, even when you’re on vacation at La Casa del Zorro!

Whether you’re looking for a retreat to get more sun and swim, spend more time connecting with nature; or you’re simply looking to relax your body and mind while dining on gourmet fare, we’re here for you.

Here are five ways you can improve your mental and physical well-being during a sun-drenched getaway to La Casa del Zorro:

Healthy Hikes

Borrego Palm Canyon

Anza Borrego and Borrego Springs wouldn’t be such a hotbed for wellness and healthy lifestyles without its #1 outdoor activity: hiking. As the largest state park in California, Anza Borrego Desert State Park encompasses more than 630,000 acres and has hiking trails everywhere. Ranging from easy desert strolls to heart-racing, full-day hikes traversing the desert mountains, the trails in Anza Borrego will lead you to natural wonders you never even imagined. Discover a lush, hidden palm tree grove at the end of the Palm Canyon Trail, the pictographs left behind by the Kuumeyaay Indians in Blair Valley,  the seasonal Maidenhair Falls, or the endless miles of wind caves, slot canyons, badlands, and boulder-topped mountains strewn throughout the desert’s entire expanse. Lace up your hiking shoes, bring a lot of sun protection and water, and venture out to a fitter you!

Pools, Pools, and more Pools

La Casa Del Zorro Fitness Center Pools In the desert, we love our pools. La Casa del Zorro is no exception! We have not one, not two, but FIVE outdoor swimming pools! And, if that weren’t enough, 11 of our casitas have their own private pools. Sure, we’re located in the heart of the Anza Borrego desert, but you’ll never find a shortage of water, or its calming affects, when you stay with us.  Take a dip, toss around the beach ball with your family or simply dangle your legs in while catching some rays. Our resort is the watery oasis that visitors are thirsting for after a day of exploring the desert.

Fit Fare

Butterfield Dining Room PatioYou are what you eat. And, when you dine in our historic Butterfield Room, you’ll be the healthiest version of yourself. Our menu is packed with nutritious appetizers and entrees that complement the wholesomeness of the desert. Refuel after a day of canyon exploring and desert hiking with a protein-packed Black Bean Soup, with sweet onions, chilies, freshly ground and toasted cumin seeds, and splashes of sherry and chive crème fraiche. Or, savor the healthy benefits and delicious flavors of our Miso Roast Salmon, Scottish salmon marinated in white miso over a bed of short grain brown rice, sautéed spinach and exotic mushrooms.

Club La Casa

Club La CasaOf course, La Casa del Zorro gives resort guests full access to all workout facilities and pools.  But, we didn’t stop there. We decided to keep our entire community of Borrego Springs healthy! With our new Club La Casa memberships, even locals and non-guests can get their adrenaline pumping using our fitness facilities, exercise classes, six tennis courts, swimming pools and hot tub. Packed with everything you need for a fit body, Club La Casa offers an extremely affordable way to make fitness a priority.  Annual membership rates start at $150/year for an individual (that’s just $12.50/month), or $225 for a family of four (just $18.75/month for the entire family)! Classes include water aerobics, cardio dance and yoga. Now, there’s no reason why you can’t go into 2014 with stronger muscles and a slimmer physique.

Desert Tranquility

Borrego Springs TranquilityNo one can deny the serenity and rejuvenating effects of a quiet desert landscape. Now, imagine being surrounded by that calming peacefulness of Mother Nature from every direction. During the day, the sun drenches the desert and its flourishing plant and animal life. At night, our dark skies are illuminated with a spectacular blanket of stars. Our resort is far removed from traffic, commotion, crowds and chain stores. What’s left is an experience that feels a world away. When you stay with us, your mind clears, your focus sharpens, and what’s really important in life becomes obvious. That gift is truly our greatest amenity.

Desert Holiday Gift Guide

Twas the night before Christmas..and you still hadn’t finished your holiday shopping.

Ever been in that scenario? We know we have! And, though you had every intention at shopping local, the closer you got to December 25th meant another chaotic race around a jam-packed, commercial shopping center.

The staff at La Casa del Zorro decided to save you the hassle of finding a memorable gift for your favorite people.

From signature experiences you can only have in the desert, to fun presents from our favorite mom’n’pop stores in Borrego Springs, read on to find out our favorite gifts this holiday season.

Borrego Outfitters
StylishShadeJust ask anyone who lives in the desert. Living year-round under the rays of the sun have made us experts at covering up.  We can effortlessly shade ourselves while still looking good because of a line of durable, yet chic hats from Borrego Outfitters, one of our favorite stores for the desert lifestyle.   Owners Ben and Donna Nourse suggest their line of Tilley hats for men, which offers UPF 50 UV protection and wide, stiff brims to keep both the sun and rain off. Best part? They’re guaranteed for life to not wear out, shrink or fall apart.  The Nourse’s line of Wallaroo hats for women were meant for looking ‘desert chic’ (yes, we just made that term up). Besides having wide brims, UV protection, and plenty of styles and colors to match any outdoor outfit, Wallaroo hats are also packable and crushable. Toss them in your suitcase, then grab and go.

California Overland Desert Excursions
DesertAdventureGive someone the gift of a modern-day desert adventure – a ruggedly exciting ride and tour of Anza Borrego State Desert Park aboard a former military vehicle! California Overland Desert Excursions is known throughout California as being the “finest way to rough it” and takes explorers deep into hidden desert canyons,  lush palm groves,  remainders of Indian villages, and incredible slot canyons.   Instead of gazing at the desert through your car windshield, California Overland takes allows you to climb into it, feel it, roll through it. California Overland also offers desert camping trips and private jeep tours.


La Casa del Zorro Fitness Center(Club La Casa)
IMG_0756Let us help your friends and family make 2014 their healthiest year yet! They don’t have to be a resort guest to reap the healthy rewards of a world-class fitness center. We’re now offering annual memberships so they can take advantage of our tennis courts, fitness classes, weight and cardio machines, and our collection of swimming pools. Pricing options for annual memberships are just as much as you would pay MONTHLY at an off-site gym. Sign up is easy too. Just speak with our fitness club director, Jeannie Thomas at 760-767-0100.

Stargaze Borrego

Photo: Dennis Mammana

Photo: Dennis Mammana

Trust us, we feel like some of the luckiest people around. Each and EVERY night we get covered by a sky blanketed with stars! Want to give a gift that’s just as heavenly? Treat someone to a breathtaking and personalized tour of the cosmos above Borrego Springs, listed as one of the 10 Places for Stargazing by USA Today. StarGaze Borrego offers 3-hour celestial tours with famed local astronomer and columnist, Dennis Mammana.  Using both a high-powered telescope and your naked eye, Dennis will show you the solar system’s wonders beyond the twinkling stars we’re accustomed to. You’ll discover stellar clusters, planets, Earth-orbiting satellites, galaxies and star-forming nebulae. Reservations are required for this amazing experience! La Casa del Zorro will host a “Stargaze Borrego” presentation at the Archery Center from 6pm to 8pm this coming Sunday December 22nd. Resort guests and staff are invited.

Regalos de Borrego
BringSouthwestHomeJust like the desert, the family-owned Regalos de Borrego is filled with treasures. We love browsing this store, brimming wall-to-wall with colorful Southwest pottery, wall art, blankets, jewelry, Talavera, Native American goods, candles, and so much more.  Their artisans reside in Mexico, Peru, Arizona, and New Mexico. It’s hard to pick one gift from this place. You try making a decision between a hand-carved wooden animal, a Native American bracelet or a finely crafted Oaxacan rug! We finally settled on Mata Ortiz Pottery, named after a small village of artisans near the ancient ruins of Casa Grandes in Chihuahua, Mexico. Fun fact: These artisans don’t use a pottery wheel! Each piece of pottery is entirely hand-crafted and combine a thousand years of tradition with contemporary art forms.

The Butterfield Room
IMG_0794Have a foodie friend or family member? Give them an elegant taste of Borrego Springs history! The Butterfield Room has been known as Borrego Springs’ finest dining experience for generations and generations. Now, under the direction of Executive Chef Kurt Hauser, the menu features California cuisine inspired by global ingredients and flavors. You’ll still find long-time favorites, such as the Kit Fox Salad, with its refreshingly sweet and flavorful mix of dates, jicama, raspberries, avocado and local Borrego ruby grapefruit, along with new dishes like the Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Guajillo Chili Sauce made with Anejo Tequila. Even the surroundings are a sensory experience. Choose to dine in the sophisticated dining room surrounded with rich woods, crisp white linens and desert art, or the airy Rose Garden Terrace that looks out onto a beautiful and colorful garden with flowers and fountains.


Photo: Dennis Mammana

Photo: Dennis Mammana

Borrego Desert Nature Center
Home to the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, the Borrego Desert Nature Center is where you head not just for all your desert exploration questions, but also local art, pottery, hats, shirts, jewelry, children’s books, and books on wildflowers, geology, history, and birding. Gracing their walls, you’ll find Stars Over Borrego, a stirring collection of Borrego night sky photography taken by local astronomer, Dennis Mammana. Available for purchase as photographic prints, these celestial images showcase what makes our region a natural wonder from the bottom of our desert floor to the top of the starry skies.

DesertSheenDesert jewelry shines just as bright as the sun. Just ask Melissa Kuehn and Rebecca Braden from Ocotillo’s boutique, located in The Center in Borrego Springs. From the first day they opened, their best seller has been the timeless Liquid Metal bracelets and necklaces designed by Sergio Guiterrez. Featuring modern designs that are chic, geometric and delicate with a nickel sheen, these are the ultimate accessories for any desert fashionista’s personal collection. 760-767-5993

Casitas at La Casa del Zorro
casitasFamily-time that is.  A stay in one of our 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-bedroom casitas means your entire family can stay together, surrounded with all the luxuries of home. And, even some luxuries you CAN’T find at home! Each casita comes with a fireplace, and a private pool or outdoor Jacuzzi tub. Gather together next to the fireplace in the cozy family room, share a meal at a large family-style dining table, take a dip in your own private pool, or catch some rays in your private outdoor patio. How’s that for quality time?

11 Things We’re Thankful For at La Casa Del Zorro

With just a few days before we celebrate our first Thanksgiving since we re-opened, we wanted to pause and reflect on everything we’re thankful for.

Here are our favorites:

 1. Warm Autumn DaysWarm Autumn Day at La Casa Del Zorro

After the long days of summer came to an end, we were left with cloudless blue skies, warm desert breezes and autumn temperatures that border on perfect. Fall is truly one of the best times to visit Borrego, and not only for the average daytime temperatures of 78 degrees.  October and November are also those elusive shoulder months, right before the mass arrival of our snowbird guests who stay well into spring. So, when you stay in autumn, you’ll get treated to a desert solitude that is in a class all its own.

2. Welcoming Back Former Staff

Borrego DaysBest day for us so far? The day we re-hired our former staff members. When an emcee first announced our re-opening to a crowd at the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center, the audience broke out in vigorous applause and whistles. And, we were jumping up and down with them!

To us, La Casa del Zorro is not just a luxury desert resort. It’s a catalyst for creating jobs for the local community and bringing children back to Borrego schools. When the resort shut down in 2010 and left many without jobs, parents were forced to move their families and find work elsewhere.  We’re thrilled to have our family back with us and we’re ready to make your stay an extraordinary one.

3. Welcoming Back Long-Time Guests

Since our earliest days in the 1930’s, our resort has been a favorite spot for families to enjoy time together without the distractions and crowded schedules of their regular routines.  Generations of families have called La Casa Del Zorro their second home and a site for annual reunions. Since we’ve re-opened, we’ve seen a lot of these families returning, with many more reunions on the reservation books.

4. Desert Adventures

4 Desert Adventures Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the most diverse desert landscape in the world and that means a vast backdrop for your next adventure!  Just pick your experience. These include hiking, horseback riding, camping, Jeep touring, fossil hunting, desert wildflower viewing, and star gazing. Our friends at California Overland Adventure offer guided tours to the desert’s more rugged outposts aboard Military Transport Vehicles. They’ll take the wheel and bring you to Anza Borrego’s incredible hidden places, such as the amazing slot canyons and caves, or even a visit to the Salton Sea.  Trust us, these are experiences of a lifetime.

5. Skyart Sculptures by Ricardo Breceda

We have a secret:  Pre-historic animals are still roaming the earth.

5 Skyart

At least, they are in Borrego. Spread throughout Galleta Meadows Estate and Borrego Springs, are 129 imposing, larger-than-life sculptures of ground sloths,  saber tooth tigers, mammoths,  camels and massive birds created of welded steel. These awe-inspiring sculptures are the work of local artist Ricardo Breceda, who was commissioned in 2008 by Dennis Avery, of the Avery Label family. Using the desert as his canvas, Breceda based his sculptures on the animals who roamed the Borrego Valley when it was once a lush forest. The most spectacular creature of this massive steel menagerie? A 350-foot-long sea serpent whose body and tail emerges from the desert sand.  Get your camera ready, as it’ll be hard to stop taking pictures.

6. Desert Hospitality

It’s a comment we hear often from guests: “Everyone here is so nice!” We can toast to that. Borregans are a friendly bunch, and we’re proud to call them family. Whether chatting up a local at
Carmelitas Mexican Grill, the Anza-Borrego Desert Nature Center,  or  the Center Market Grocery Store, everyone here is genuinely happy to share the town with you. Don’t be surprised if your request for directions turns into a genuine conversation about their favorite places to hike, eat and explore.

7. Star-Filled Skies

7 StarrySkies

Some of the best things happen at night. Especially, here in the desert! On clear nights (which are plentiful), you’ll see the desert, dunes, palm trees and cacti lit up by a dazzling blanket of stars. Borrego is a haven for both professional and amateur star gazers. That’s thanks to the surrounding mountains, the open space of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and a location that’s so far removed from a major city. Along with being named as an official Dark Sky Community (the only one in the state of California), USA Today rated us as one of the Top 10 Stargazing Locations in the nation.

8. Plenty of Room for Families

Yucca Pool

The holidays are all about family. We’re thankful that our resort offers families the space they need to spread out, along with the privacy they are accustomed to. This is because we offer something totally unique from all other resorts in San Diego County:  19 stand-alone casitas with private pools, spas and fireplaces. Your children can take a splash in the private pool, while other family members sit by the fireplace, or dine at the family dining table.

9. Our Magnificent Neighbor – Anza Borrego Desert State Park

9 Anza Borrego Desert State ParkOpen the door to your room and you’ll see we’re surrounded by California’s largest state park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This is where the Sonoran Desert meets the Peninsular Mountain Ranges, making this also the most diverse desert landscape in the world.  It’s an adventure waiting to happen…with 600,000 acres of dramatic washes, canyons, palm groves, wildflowers, cacti and sweeping desert vistas.  By far, the most popular time to visit is in late February or early March, when  desert wildflowers start to bloom in force. You’ll also have the opportunity to spot bighorn sheep, after which ‘borrego’ was named.

10. Opening the Doors to the Private Copley Residence

outdoor_back_poolOur former owners, the legendary Copley family of San Diego,  loved the desert and La Casa del Zorro so much that they built a residence for themselves on the very edge of the property.  This house, which they named ‘Happy Days,’ was the site for many gatherings of families and friends for 40 years.  After the unfortunate passing of David Copley in 2012, our current owners have decided to share the Copley’s once-private residence with the public. Now you can reserve Happy Days for overnight stays or events and experience the life of the Copleys. Stay tuned for our sneak-peek inside Happy Days in a future blog post!

11. You

Whether you’re a long-time resort guest or a newcomer to the desert, we’re thankful that you care as much for La Casa del Zorro as we do!  Here’s to many more Thanksgivings together!

Journey of the Fox:
A Look Back

There’s excitement building up among the palm trees at La Casa del Zorro.casa-historic-postcard2

And who can blame us? After being shuttered for more than three years, we’re rapidly approaching the date when we can officially celebrate our grand opening with former guests and employees, friends and local Borregans who have been rooting for this long-awaited return from the beginning.

In essence, our return to Borrego is as much theirs, as it is ours.

To celebrate our official grand opening, walk with us down memory lane. We’ll look over more than 80 years of storied history from within the resort’s walls and throughout the  desert.  Meet our original owners who lovingly built La Casa from a meager two-room structure and the generations of guests who have passed through our doors.

Join us as we reminisce over where we’ve been and where we’re headed…

The Zorro is Born: How It All Began

When San Diego hotel manager, Noel Crickmer, visited Borrego’s desert valley in 1936, he was drawn to a special kind of friendliness that exuded from the people who lived there.  Just as it is today, there was never a shortage of conversation and offers of lodging, food and suggestions for evading snake bites.

Zorro Is Born

Beyond that, Crickmer experienced much of what today’s desert visitors feel. He was enthralled by the stunning desert vistas drenched in sunshine, starry black skies, sandstone canyons and scattered patches of lush palm tree groves.   Temptation called and he returned to purchase a simple adobe ranch house with two rooms and named it Desert Lodge.  Crickmer took time to build out the structure, adding a room and making improvements.

He opened the lodge’s doors to travelers in autumn 1937 and La Casa del Zorro was born.

A Guest Book of San Diego’s Movers and Shakers

At the beginning, Crickmer admitted that “the most we could offer guests were good beds,

A Guest Book of Movers and Shakers

an ample supply of food and a friendly atmosphere.” Even without the normal resort luxuries, word spread about this secluded desert retreat, and Crickmer and his wife were soon welcoming prominent citizens from San Diego.

Tom Sefton, who later would become president of the San Diego Trust & Savings Bank,  traveled with his friends to practice marksmanship in the Borrego Badlands. Entire rooms would be taken over by the Jessops family of J. Jessops & Sons Jewelers. Major Reuben Fleet would be found playing chess with Crickmer, while George Marston and his daughter would stay overnight after a full day of exploring the desert.

A Guest Book of Movers and Shakers2

Visitors hailed from around the country and globe,  from San Francisco to the Netherlands.

During those times, the Desert Lodge took on a family atmosphere, with many guests opting to dine in the kitchen and even helping out with the dishes.

Many of these early visitors have made travels to Anza Borrego and La Casa del Zorro part of their family tradition that continues to thrive from generation to generation.

War Effort Stretches into the Desert

After the 1941 bombing in Pearl Harbor, our region came alive with military troops after Borrego Springs Park was designated as a Marine and Army outpost to train recruits. Though we could only fit up to 18 guests at that time, we consistently ballooned up to 40 guests. These included soldiers, their families and the mounds of luggage that came with them as the troops savored their last moments with loved ones before heading overseas.

Just as the rest of the country at that time, the years were rough and rations were few. So guests donated what they could, such as candy, soft drinks and cigarettes for the soldiers.  However, it was our desert friends who pulled their own resources to keep our doors open with their donations of dairy and fresh beef.

As the war came to an end, more visitors and realtors set their eyes on Borrego and the desert valley came alive with activity.  Paved roads, outside electricity, and telephones arrived and so did a new era.

Shortly after, Crickmer decided to sell the Desert Lodge.

The Happy Days of the CopleysHappy Days of Copleys

The keys to the Desert Lodge were eventually purchased by publishing magnate, James S. Copley in 1960. Copley changed the name to La Casa del Zorro and for the next decade expanded and renovated the property, all the while maintaining the charm of the hotel’s humble beginnings.

Modern furniture was moved in, the hotel’s first pool was built, and spacious cottages were made to welcome families and groups.  Like a desert bloom in springtime, the resort thrived under the Copley family’s four decades of ownership to become a 42-acre oasis of formal service and private villas.

Happy Days of Copleys2

Our property was billed as a rejuvenating, destination resort that attracted the glamorous Hollywood set, who would hold weddings and parties throughout the years. Copley himself loved to entertain here and La Casa was frequently full of family and his elite circle of friends who mingled with other hotel guests.

After more than four fruitful decades, the Copley family decided to sell the resort in 2007.

Losing Our Way

Losing Our Way

The Copleys sold La Casa del Zorro to real estate investor, Greg Perlman, who dreamt of turning the resort into an exclusive, ultra-luxurious and adults-only hideaway named Borrego Springs Ranch. Under his vision, only hotel guests would be allowed to frequent the restaurant and use the resort’s amenities. The targeted hotel guest? The one with deep enough pockets to also invest in real estate he was developing next door.   He poured $7 million into renovations, while also laying off a large number of employees at the hotel.

The economy didn’t align with Perlman’s vision and in just 14 months, the hotel was closed. And, to the local community’s dismay, remained shuttered for the next three years.

The Legend Returns DSC_0791

Then, in early 2013, a Borrego Springs event erupted in vigorous applause when it was announced that the La Casa del Zorro was coming back!

San Diego real estate investor Jack McGrory, local developer Casey Brown, and veteran hotelier Jack Giacomini partnered together and decided it was time to breathe new life into the shut-down resort and bring it back to the beauty and livelihood that it once enjoyed.

Gone was the short-lived name Borrego Springs Ranch. McGrory, Brown and Giacomini decided to keep Copley’s moniker, La Casa del Zorro.  DSC_0794

They spent the year investing in the hotel’s improvements, welcoming back former resort staff, and getting to know and love the resort’s deep connection to the community of Borrego Springs. GM Patrick Sampson succeeds the legendary former GM Dori Holladay as La Casa’s welcoming host.

“Borrego has gone through some very tough years,” McGrory told the San Diego Union Tribune.

“But, it’s coming back.”

Grand Opening

And, here we are today!

We’re beyond thrilled to throw open our doors to all our friends and guests – old and new.  Join us for weekend of celebration for our Grand Opening.  Festivities include:


The Legend Kick Off Party
Friday, October 18 at 6:30pm
Limited Tickets

Paparazzi Pool Party
Saturday, October 19 at 8pm

Family Day at La Casa
Sunday, October 20 11am-3pm

Call us to reserve your tickets: 760-767-0100

We’re looking forward to forging a sparkling future for La Casa with you.

Your Memories at La Casa

Now that we’ve shared our memories, tell us yours. Share your memories on your favorite social media platform or leave us a comment below and let us know your favorite moments at La Casa del Zorro!

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