With canyons and ravines numbering in the thousands, the Anza-Borrego Desert offers a lifetime of scenic exploration. Even the smaller canyons, such as Lizard Canyon, which penetrates only a small distance into the rocky hills, offer a variety of biological habitats: sandy washes where smoke trees periodically deal with destructive flash floods, north-facing slopes where pinyon pines and junipers take refuge from the glaring sun, and south-facing slopes where drought-resistant agave and cacti plump up to store every bit of meager runoff they can get from infrequent rains. Of the two branches of Lizard Canyon, the west fork is the more interesting by far: It’s narrower, deeper, and visited only by curious hikers. From your parked car, head a short distance west into that fork. The walking is easy as you gradually ascend, trending south, mostly on smooth sand and sometimes over rocks. You pass soaring walls of broken, cream-colored granitic rock, and later metamorphic rock consisting of striped and banded beige and chocolate-brown layers. Small caverns pit the canyon wall on the left, where the metamorphic zone begins.
© Jerry Schad/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.