Indianhead Peak, a component of the San Ysidro Mountain Range, dominates the western skyline over the desert oasis of Borrego Springs.
The peak derives its politically incorrect moniker from its profile view from the East, which closely resembles an upward looking face, undoubtedly inspiring long forgotten tales pre-dating the so-called civilized society which now dominates the Northern Hemisphere.
Indianhead is located within the boundaries of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Established in 1933, the park is California's largest at 60 miles long by 35 miles wide and containing 600,000 acres. The parks composite name honors that of Juan Bautista de Anza, who gets the credit for initiating a trail from old Mexico to present-day San Francisco via Coyote Canyon (also within the park); Borrego is the spanish word for the desert Bighorn Sheep who hover on the verge of extinction within the park and can be seen occasionally on the flanks of this and many other peaks in the park.
The mountains composition is that of the Peninsular Batholith which dominates much of Southern California. The park was endowed with the good fortune of encompasssing the San Jacinto and Elsinore fault lines (with the San Andreas showing up just north of the park boundary) along with many, many, MANY other sub-parallel seismic belts which have mashed, folded, stapled and mutilated the majority of the park and provides a geological potpourri of surface expressions. For the professional or amateur geologist the park contains countless examples of textbook geological phenomena encompassing the spectrum of intrusive and extrusive volcanics, metamorphosed mushies and sedimentary sautee'
One of Indianhead's most notable and delightful features is that it provides NO EASY ACCESS to the summit. Looking for a nice peak to bag on a pleasant Sunday stroll? Forget it - if you want to add this one to your pebble collection put on your armor and get ready to rumble! The parks Visitors Center is about 800 feet above sea level which when subtracted from the peaks 3960ft elevation gives you nice 3160 feet of pure climbing joy. Expect heavy-duty class two and lots of loose rock accentuated by the occasional dessicated remains of a fallen bighorn sheep.
Borrego Springs California is the target destination (and the closest town); it is located about 2 hours east of San Diego California. Type it into your MapBlast engine or GPS and press GO -or- : Directions
The closest and easiest access to the peak is via Palm Canyon Campground, operated under the auspices of the park. Day parking is available (along with overnite camping - see "Camping" section below.)
See also the accompanying Route Info for variations.
Red Tape/Camping Fees
As of the time of this writing, no permits or seasonal closures are/were in effect. The "borrego" bighorn sheep do frequent this area so if you do see any, please give them a very wide berth.
When To Climb
Winter and spring are the optimal times to climb; springtime being the best due to the extravagent blooms witnessed in the park. A truly
Palm Canyon, Tamarisk Grove, Pegleg Smith, Clark Dry Lakebed, etc, etc, etc.
There are too many opportunities to camp to list here. Suffice to say that you can easily find a multitude of campsites away from the pay camps and in a beautiful setting to boot. Consult a trail map or a ranger for details on backcountry camping. Backcounty is free as of this writing. Developed campgrounds prices vary. There are also a few hotels in town ranging from pricey to modest, along with many other restaurants and bars
The usual suspects here:
The Weather Channel - Borrego Springs California
Conditions and Contact Information
Indianhead is one of the Sierra Club's Desert Peaks, along with (in the San Diego/Imperial/SoCal region) Jacumba, Picacho and Sombrero Peaks
Verizon Wireless customers have pretty coverage here in and around town (in case of emergency.)
- Anza Borrego Statepark Website
good link providing local weather, camping and wildflower updates, among other things. Their Visitors Center is worth visiting when in the area
- ABDSP - State of California Website link
another source for directions to the area; also has some limited map capability