Roads Perfect For Cruising Near Borrego Springs

Taking a ride to Patton's playground

Borrego Springs map - desert riding
Some roads through the desert aren't necessarily attractive for urbanites, but they make for great motorcycling roads. The Borrego Springs area can attest to that.Photography by Adam Campbell

There's a stretch of dusty land just north of the Mexican border with a patch of greenery so remote that a Starbucks has yet to sully its barren creosote floor. Better hurry though—this kind of scenery in California is fading fast.

It says something about an area’s desolation when you discover General Patton used it back in World War II to train doughboys for tours of North Africa. Word had it there’s even a passel of unexploded ordnance left behind. Getting there’s the trick though—escaping the sprawl of Los Angeles necessitates logging hours of freeway miles before you can cut southeast through the secluded inland valleys and foothills east of Temecula. San Felipe Road (S2) intersects off Hwy. 79, and as it heads east, rolls into Montezuma Valley Road’s (S22) happy mix of hills and sweepers through Ranchita. By the time S22 drops down into the valley—the Montezuma Grade—the ride has morphed into an eye-popping combo of twists and turns with epic views. Hang on for the final dramatic descent to the low-key desert community of Borrego Springs. Overshadowed by more glamorous Palm Springs to the north, Borrego’s not exactly Shangri-La for urban types, but for cruisers, it’s damn close.

On the valley floor, head along the main drag of Palm Canyon. The schizophrenic smattering of businesses are mostly geared toward RV tourist types and desert rats. Gas stations coexist next to antique shops, but otherwise the place is practically deserted.

Pass through town and go south to Yaqui Pass Rd. (S3). You'll head back up into the mountains where the road gets tight and winding through the hills. The next 30 miles on Hwy. 78 west to the historic mining town of Julian are just as pretty, but that's true no matter which road you turn onto in these parts. For more info, check out www.borregosprings.org.

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