Anza Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP), located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, is the largest state park in California and the second-largest in the contiguous United States. Located about a two-hour drive northeast of San Diego, it is a diverse and fascinating landscape with over 600,000 acres to explore, many unique microclimates, and environs. Perfect for the nature photographer.
The park contains bajadas, or desert washes, whose best kept secret are the numerous wildflowers found amongst rock formations and colorful badlands. Seasonal displays include subtle smoke tree blooms, beavertail cactus crowned with brilliant pink flowers, cholla cactus with its barbed spines and yellow buds, the orange flares which adorn the lanky ocotillo plant, trumpet-like desert lily flowers, and too many more to mention here.
Palm Canyon is home to the park’s namesake, Borrego, the Spanish word for bighorn sheep. This population of Peninsular bighorn are holding their own and can frequently be found dispersed amount the popular hiking trail and sometimes viewed hydrating at the pupfish pond.
Not to be overlooked are the many types of fauna, including a variety of active desert birds, reptiles, jackrabbits, antelope squirrels, rattlesnakes, the elusive mountain lion, kit fox, mule deer, coyote, and more.
ABDSP lies in a unique geologic setting and inspires the landscape photographer. Paleontological remains are widespread and numerous Native American sites are dispersed throughout the park.
Join nature and wildlife photographer, Sandy Zelasko as we travel through the park and into the backcountry with our outfitters capturing spectacular rugged sites. If wildflowers are popping we will certainly take advantage of those photo ops too! And of course, a visit to Borrego Springs isn’t complete without enjoying the amazing Borrego Sky Sculptures in Galleta Meadows.
- Photographic instruction in the field and in the classroom
- Roundtrip transportation from Phoenix
- Four nights single occupancy lodging
- An outfitter tour & gratuities
- Water, snacks, and a group dinner.
- Permits and Entrance Fees
- Pre-workshop webinar
- Post-workshop critique
Please be aware that the shooting locations stated in this itinerary may change. Each day we will determine which locations are best based on lighting and weather conditions. We want to give you the best possible photo opportunities.
Day 1 – Monday, Feb 27, 2023
- Depart Phoenix at 8:00 am
- In route, we will stop for lunch
- Arriving in Borrego Springs, we will check in to our hotel.
- After the group is settled, Sandy will host an orientation and meet and greet.
- The group will then grab our gear and head out for an evening shoot
- Return for welcome dinner.
Day 2 – Tuesday, February 28, 2023
- Depart the hotel early to travel to Palm Canyon Trailhead for a 3-mile in/out hike to the 1st palm oasis in a beautiful desert canyon. Desert flora and fauna with possible Desert Bighorn Sheep sightings.
- Return to hotel for brunch and mid-day reviews
- Early afternoon we will head out for more incredible wildlife and desert landscapes.
- Return after our sunset shoot.
Day 3 – Wednesday, Mar 1, 2023
- Meet our outfitter to get to the iconic Font’s Point to photograph sunrise overlooking the popular Borrego Badlands.
- Return to hotel for bunch and mid-day reviews.
- Mid-afternoon we will head out to other areas of ABSP making possible stops at Box Canyon, Vallecito Stage Station and Carrizo Badlands Overlook on the historic Overland Trail for a photographic overview of the desert landscape and more.
- Return to hotel and dinner.
Day 4 – Thursday, Mar 2, 2023
- Depart early for great sunrise views and the best displays of wildflowers.
- After our fill of flowers, we will move on to the Borrego Sky Sculptures to capture the whimsical metal animals and characters by Ricardo Breceda.
- Following a lunch break, we will take a tour and history walk at the Borrego Art Institute.
- Our evening field destination will include the “Hawk Watch” with The Hawk Guy, Hal Cohen, for a lesson on Swainson Hawk migration through the desert. We will be able to photograph hawks as they kettle in the skies above.
- Dinner and return to the hotel.
Day 5 – Friday, Mar 3, 2023
- We will depart early one last time as we travel to the ABDSP Visitor Center to photograph birds and plants of the desert in the early morning light.
- After our fill of bird photography, we will then move on to Coyote Canyon for more wildflowers and landscapes.
- Return to check out, have brunch, and then one final critique.
- The workshop ends at 1:00 PM when we will depart for Phoenix.
Physical Rating: Moderate
The hike into Palm Canyon is approximate 3 miles RT with an elevation gain of 450 ft. ABSP is rugged desert and mountainous landscapes. Most hikes or walks will be on designated trails or desert terrain. It is important to be conditioned for the elements and to stay hydrated.
Workshop Departs From and Returns to Phoenix, AZ
Holiday Inn & Suites Phoenix Airport
3220 S. 48th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Phone: (480) 543-1700
Pre-night and post-night rooms are available for workshop participants at our corporate rate. Participants are required to make their own reservations and pay for these dates. The corporate rate is only available on a space-available status and must be booked online. The corporate rate is not available by phone.
Lodging During the Workshop
Our group will spend four nights at the fabulous Borrego Springs Resort. All lodging is based on single occupancy. If you planned to meet the group in Borrego Springs, a courtesy block of rooms has been set up for the night prior, on February 26, 2023. Please contact the hotel directly to reserve and pay for this additional night.
If you are concerned about the possibility of canceling your trip we urge you to protect your workshop investment and purchase travel insurance. We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance plan with a “Cancel for Any Reason” option. Many guests have last-minute injuries, emergencies, or life changes that can disrupt their plans only to wish they had a way to recoup their lost expenses.
There are a number of reputable companies that provide Travel Insurance. For a listing of providers, you can visit www.insuremytrip.com. AHPS has partnered with TravelEx Insurance Services over the years and has found them to be reputable and offer comprehensive plans at competitive prices. For more information visit www.travelexinsurance.
CANCELATION POLICY: All cancelations must be in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
- 91 days or more prior to the start of the workshop your deposit will be refunded less $250
- 61-90 days your workshop fees will be refunded in the form of an AHPS Store Credit Voucher less $250 administrative fee. The remainder of the fees paid can be used toward a future workshop within 18 months of cancelation. The voucher is good for 18 months.
- 60 days or less until departure – No refund.
If we are able to fill your seat and the workshop runs at full enrollment we will refund your workshop fees less the $100 processing fee.
This cancellation policy applies in every situation and there will be no exceptions made for any reason. We will not issue refunds for cancelations due to illness or late arrivals due to travel delays.
Arizona Highways PhotoScapes reserves the right to cancel or change any workshop if our minimum enrollment is not met or if situations beyond our control arise that may create unsafe or undesirable travel conditions. Any cancelation or postponement as a result of situations beyond our control, AHPS does not promise any refunds or credits. If and when feasible, we will attempt to reschedule the workshop at a later date. Alternatively, we may decide to issue you credit for a future workshop, or issue a refund, less any non-refundable deposits we have paid to workshop providers on your behalf.
PAYMENT TERMS: A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space. Please refer to the specific workshop for the required deposit. Final payments are due 90 days prior to departure. Approximately 15 days prior to the due date you will receive a reminder email that your balance is coming due. If final payments are not received by 70 days prior to your workshop, your registration is subject to forfeiture including all fees paid to date.
If registering within 90 days of your workshop, full payment is due at the time of registration.