Two hours east of San Diego, on the remote Southern California S-3 highway, you may find yourself in a strange new world. Two bucks rearing on their hind legs make a stunning sight across the flat landscape. Then a giant scorpion fighting with a beetle. The profile of a sand dragon breaks the desert skyline. Welcome to Borrego Springs, California.
No, this is not a case of tripping on Peyote. Instead, it is Galleta Meadows Estate, a roadside attraction in the heart of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This privately owned land was bought by the heir to the Avery labels fortune, Dennis Avery, in an act of conservation. In 2007, Avery commissioned Mexican artist Ricardo Breceda to create artworks in steel to represent the now-fossilized creatures that once roamed the Anza-Borrego Desert.
Ricardo Breceda has been called “The Accidental Artist” and “The Picasso of Steel,” and has taken much of his inspiration for his works from mythology as well as popular culture. Once Breceda had completed the creatures native to the Anza-Borrego Desert in steel, he went on to create more figures – from the sand serpent to the head of Salvador Palma, leader of the Quechan tribe.
Galleta Meadows Estate is a unique art gallery: unfenced, open all year round, and designated to bring a little bit more wonder into people’s everyday lives. North of Borrego Springs Road, towards Henderson Canyon Road, you will find sloths, camels, and elephants roaming the meadows. Heading south, as the Borrego Springs Road becomes the S-3 you will see wild horses and raptors.
To Get Here
To find Galleta Meadows Estate, take Highway 78 east from North County. If you are trying to see all 130 of the sculptures, it is recommended that you pick up a printed map of their whereabouts. These are available from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, Anza-Borrego Foundation, and the Borrego Springs Library.