Constellations, Wildflowers, and Vintage Trailers Shine at California’s Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Embrace the retro camping vibes at this desert oasis

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Conventional wisdom holds that traveling back in time is impossible. But the proprietors of Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort in Borrego Springs, California, know better. They’ve created a camping experience that transports guests to the mid-20th century when tailfins on vehicles weren’t considered “retro.”

Located 88 miles northeast of San Diego and situated under clear desert skies, the resort treats guests to several vintage Airstreams — and other old-fashioned trailers — for overnight stays. The full-hookup models boast classic design features inside and out, although the appliances are modern, giving guests the amenities they’ve come to expect from modern camping. Guests can choose a trailer that harkens back to the heyday of Elvis or a model that conjures visions of the freewheeling ’60s and ’70s. In fact, the Wi-Fi available at the resort lets you rock around the clock as you run the air conditioner and grab a beer from the fridge.

Canopies stand next to some of the trailers, giving occupants plenty of shade for lounging at the campground. The patio furniture also evokes the sleek designs of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Photo Credit: Melissa Kopka/Getty Images

Back to the 21st Century

Beyond the retro neighborhood, the resort offers 80 full-hookup spaces with 30- and 50-amp power available. Of these, 36 pull-through sites accommodate larger RVs. The park sits adjacent to the hotel, which sports an Old West facade reminiscent of the frontier days. Guests can take a dip in the swimming pool and hot tubs, work out in the exercise room, or lift a few libations in the cocktail lounge.

For additional accommodations, visitors can stay in seven park models and 60 lodge room rentals.

Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Photo Credit: Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Seeing Stars in Borrego Springs

After sunset, stargazers can take in crystal clear views of the stars not found in the big city. Indeed, Borrego Springs has an International Dark Sky community designation, with glittering views of the Milky Way and planets in our solar system. Astronomy buffs can attend one of the “Star Parties” held in town to learn about constellations, shooting stars, comets, and other celestial phenomena. Noted astronomers such as Dennis Mammana often host the events.

The community can attribute its clear skies to the fact that it’s surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego State Park, an expanse of desert habitat known for its badlands, slot canyons, and wildlife. The park is the third-largest state park in the nation. During spring, colorful wildflowers blanket large swaths of the terrain, although the phenomenon varies in size and scope from year to year.

The resort is only a 12-minute walk from the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center, a gateway to hiking, biking, and horseriding trails. The center also has exhibits focusing on wildlife and geology.

Other nearby recreation includes ATV riding and rock climbing.

Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort

Photo Credit: Woodkern/Getty Images

Borrego Springs Art: Beauties and Beasts

Art lovers will find plenty of reasons to visit the region. Several art galleries in town display paintings, photography, and sculpture from local creatives.

Less than a mile northeast of the resort lies Sky Art Sculpture Garden, famous for the 130 giant metal sculptures that loom over the 1,500-acre property. Check out the 350-foot-long Sea Serpent, which appears to swim through the desert soil like a mythological creature brought to life. Elsewhere, the giant grasshopper and scorpion provide plenty of nightmare fuel, looking just like a sci-fi film from the 1950s.

Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort stays open from August 31 to May 31.

John Sullaway
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