Nestled in the San Ysidro Mountains within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Culp Valley Loop is an easy hike that features panoramic desert views. At 3,300 feet above sea level, temperatures at Culp Valley are considerably cooler than in the low desert to the east. Nevertheless, they can still reach upwards of 100 degrees during the summer, and it’s best to do this hike during early morning or late evening.
Begin at the northeast end of the Culp Valley Primitive Campground located just off of Montezuma Valley Road. The first half-mile is a wheelchair-friendly stretch to a scenic overlook of Pinyon Ridge and the desert below. From here, the trail swings to the northwest and views of the San Ysidro Mountains. Culp Valley Loop Trail soon reaches a junction with the California Riding and Hiking Trail, which leads to another panoramic viewpoint.
Over 3,000 feet below lays the town of Borrego Springs framed by the Santa Rosa Mountains on the distant horizon. On a clear day, the view extends all the way to the Salton Sea, situated some 30 miles to the northeast as the crow flies. Head back the same way to the Culp Valley Loop Trail, which subsequently merges with a dirt road and circles back to the campground.