Going to tamarisk grove in anza borrego for 2 nights in mid march-any places to check out?

Kangaroo rat from borrego palm canyon area (1)Hello All,

I am going to stay in a tamarisk grove cabin the nights of 3/16 and 3/17 in anza borrego. These will be low moon nights and I want to search for as many mammals as possible. Anything to watch out for or good places in that area? Would love to see bats, k-rats, foxes, ringtail, pocket mice, woodrats, etc. I also like all wildlife so I am happy to hear about non-mammal wildlife too. I read there is a bat cave near agua caliente park with bats you can see during the day when you explore. I would love to hear about any roosting bat areas or just good places to see them. I appreciate anyone willing to take a look at this, thank you.


Gary Skipper


  • Venkat Sankar

    The rodent in the photo looks to be a Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat. In mid-March, it’s still relatively cool at night so very little chance of herps and bats maybe tricky too; there should be opportunities to see heteromyids and larger stuff.

    Most secondary roads (main highways like Yaqui Pass Rd are too busy) in and near the valley offer good opportunities to see abundant Merriam’s Kangaroo Rats and Desert Pocket Mouse by night drives or walks. The road to Hellhole Palms Trail and the trail itself are reportedly very good for both species right now. The area around the main park campground at the entrance to Borrego Palm Canyon is also usually reliable, as long as it’s not too disturbed. For other local species of rodents, you need to search in specific habitats. Try narrow canyons with lots of boulders (e.g. Sentenac Canyon, Borrego Palm Canyon, Montezuma Grade, Hellhole Palms) for Spiny Pocket Mouse, transitional alluvial fans (Little Blair Valley) for Baja Pocket Mouse, moister high desert (San Felipe Valley, La Puerta Valley) for San Diego Pocket Mouse and Northern Baja Mouse. Little (washes with sagebrush) and Long-tailed (gravelly, brushy areas) PMs are also in range but rare. For Desert Kangaroo Rat, sandy flats with creosote or playa edges are best–try the road to Slot Canyon Trail or Di Giorgio Road (also good for Merriam’s K-rat and Desert PM).

    For Kit Fox, gently rising terrain at the base of the mountains ringing Borrego Springs is best. The road to the Slot Canyons is good, as are most roads leading to trailheads in the canyons near Borrego Springs (e.g. Hellhole Palms). Desert Kit Fox occurs at low densities so it’s tricky to give precise sites; my advise would be to cover as much ground spotlighting as possible. Ringtail is reported by herpers regularly on Montezuma Grade (the windy portion of Montezuma Valley road as it drops toward Borrego Springs).

    For Desert Bighorn Sheep, ask the rangers. Borrego Palm Canyon, ridges surrounding Yaqui Pass, slopes and gullies just below Montezuma Grade (visible from viewpoints along the road), and the ridge directly above Tamarisk Grove CG are the traditional spots.

    As for bats, I’ve heard of California Leaf-nosed Bat roosting at Vallecitos SHP (near Agua Caliente CP), but I’ve never been; the best place in CA for this species is Stonehouse Mine near Blythe. Pocketed Free-tailed Bats roost in crevices between boulders in Borrego Palm Canyon and may be seen emerging at nightfall; Western Yellow Bats can also be seen flying in/down the canyon, as they roost in palms at the oasis. Canyon Bat should be easy to see in flight around the trailhead parking. Apparently there is a roost of Western Mastiff Bat and Pocketed Free-tailed Bat at Split Mountain, in a pretty remote part of the park. Showing up at dusk to watch the emergence is the way to go I think. Access is apparently tricky, requiring 4WD as part of the road there is through a very sandy wash. Hope this helps.

  • gskipper

    Thank you so much venkat!

  • gskipper

    Due to poor weather I changed the reservation to the weekend of April 14th. Maybe it will be a little better for mammals and herps than March anyway.

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