In March of 2017 the winter rains delivered an eye-boggling display of flowering extravagance that became known as the “Super Bloom” in the deserts of Southern California. The normally quiet little town of Borrego Springs, located within Anza Borrego Desert State Park and lacking a single traffic light, morphed into a mini-metropolis with bumper-to-bumper traffic and waiting lines at its few restaurants.

On this page are four different virtual-reality environments. After you click on the image to activate the VR, you can drag within it with your mouse to navigate. These have the most impact if you click the “full-screen” button. On the phone version, you can navigate simply by moving the phone.


Glorietta Canyon, accessed from a dirt road up its alluvial fan a few miles south of town, was awash with the brilliant yellow blooming Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). This virtual-reality environment consists of four nodes which will take you progressively higher up the canyon. Click on the image below to explore Glorietta Canyon in virtual reality. Touch here for the phone/tablet version. Touch here for the HMD version.


Hellhole Canyon, a half mile up Montezuma Valley Road from Borrego Springs, got its name from a sheep herder complaining about the task of retrieving his animals from the upper reaches of the canyon. The name also describes the experience of anyone who chooses to hike up the canyon in the summer months. There is a mock tombstone on the trail, with a sign warning those hiking without sufficient water. This virtual-reality environment consists of four nodes: two in the main canyon, one is a minor side canyon, and one near the top of the canyon at the first of the palm groves. Two of the panoramas were made in 2019, another “superbloom” year. Click on the image below to explore Hellhole Canyon in virtual reality. Touch here for the phone/tablet version. Touch here for the HMD version.


Henderson Canyon Road, at the northern edge of Borrego Springs, was for many the super bloom epicenter. Even in late March there was still ample evidence of the winter rains, with peeling recently-wet desert pan showing where the bountiful deluge had pooled. Click on the image below to explore the flower fields off Henderson Canyon Road in virtual reality. Touch here for the phone/tablet version. Touch here for the HMD version.


We returned to Hellhole Canyon to create a depiction of the landscape with the clear night desert sky. The foreground of each photograph was illuminated for 1 second by a headlamp. Each of the 40 exposures comprising the panorama then continued for an additional 45 seconds. Stitching these together was problematic due to the earth’s rotation during the time—nearly an hour—required to shoot the 360° panorama. Aircraft high above, with their blinking lights, are depicted as repeating linear dot patterns. Click on the image below to explore Hellhole Canyon at night in virtual reality. Touch here for the phone/tablet version.


Other “All Around Nevada” destinations close to Anza Borrego include the Salton Sea Mud Volcanoes, Salvation Mountain, the Carrizo Gorge Railway, the Sacatone Overlook, Font’s Point, and the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.






 

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