OverviewWhale Peak is located in the Anza Borrego State Park in San Diego County, California. Whale Peak is located east of Escondido and south of Hwy 78 in the Vallecito Mountains. It is not as tall as many of the highest peaks in nearby mountains, however, it is ranked 68th on the Prominence List for California. From the summit on a clear day you can see the Salton Sea to the east.
Whale Peak is a true desert peak with all the beauty and remotness you would expect. The hillsides are mostly brush and cactus covered and the Anza Borrego Desert is known for its wildflowers and variety of desert plants. According to the Anza Borrego State Park website the park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as desert iguanas, chuckwallas and four species of rattlesnake. The old Overland and Butterfield Stage Lines passed nearby and there is an historical marker on Hwy 78 to visit.
Getting ThereTo find Whale Peak you have to find Hwy 78 that connects Escondido and the Salton Sea. I came from Escondido and about 11.8 miles east of Julian there is a signed junction with the Great Overland Stage Route on the south side of the Highway. Follow this road 4.5 miles through Shelter Valley to the Anza Borrego State Park. As soon as you pass the sign for the park there is a dirt/sandy road on the left or east side of the road. Take this road and stay on the road. Off road excursions are not permitted and it looked like a good place to get stuck in the sand anyway.
You can see Whale Peak ahead to the right. The road will take you to a saddle on the north side of Whale Peak. The road gets rocky at 3.6 miles and you probably need 4WD and High Clearance to get through this part. At 5.5 miles from the paved road you get to the highpoint of this sandy road. There is a spur road to the right towards Whale Peak. Take this road .3 mile to its end. There is parking here for 4-5 cars. The trail head is straight ahead up the drainage. Elevation at the trailhead is about 4,110 ft. If it rains in the area, this access road may be impassable.
An alternate trailhead is where there are some petroglyphs on the south side of Whale Peak.
Red TapeThere is no Red Tape for access or climbing Whale Peak. No permits are required.
For more information about the area contact one of the offices at: Anza Borrego State Park .
There are areas along the trail and on the summit of Whale Peak that have flat spots where you could pitch a tent also.
When to ClimbWhale Peak is accessible all year round. During the summer it can be incredibly warm at times, so be prepared.
Mountain ConditionsCheck the weather forecast before heading into the area for thunderstorms in the summer.
Weather Link for: