Difficult to get to but worth the trip, Fonts Point, found in the heart of the Borrego Badlands, offers a stunning vista unparalleled in California.
While today the Borrego Badlands are subject to scorching heat and almost no rain, they were once lush and verdant. Here, the ancient Colorado River deposited fresh water into the Gulf of California as it carved out the Grand Canyon, and supported estuaries, grasslands, marshes, and forests. These rich ecosystems supported a variety of marine life, but also horses, giant sloths, camels, bears, big cats, and other ancient charismatic megafauna.
The Colorado River has since migrated (the nearby Salton Sea was created when the river burst its levees) and most of the life it supported has died out. But the ancient remains of the river and the life it supported are still clearly visible. The Borrego Badlands is one of the best places in the world to view sediment from the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs, displayed in dramatic canyons eroded away by millennia of wind and flash floods. The landscape is rife with fossilized remains of the flora and fauna that once inhabited the area. The Borrego Badlands offer a lifetime of exploration, but to gaze over it all in a day, perhaps no place is better than Fonts Point.
Father Pedro Font was the official chaplain, observer, and diarist on the de Anza expeditions of 1775-1776. As the expedition passed through the area, Font described the landscape as the “sweepings of the earth.” On the same expedition, he would go on to be the first to map the San Francisco Bay and chose the site for the Mission San Francisco de Asis, all while advocating for improved treatment for Native Americans. Fonts Point is an epic vantage point, worthy of the name of an epic man.
Know Before You Go
Font’s Point can only be accessed by a four-mile road of loose sand baked by an unrelenting sun. Only four-wheel drive vehicles are advised, and services to help stranded passengers are few in this remote location. While the location is theoretically accessible by a standard car during a scant few weeks a year (after spring rains), 4WD vehicles are HIGHLY recommended to traverse the loose sand and rough trail. There are also half-day excursions from local businesses that take visitors to the vista point. The best times to go are dusk and during full moons.