Nature Watch: "Lower Willows"
Last updated 2/4/2021 at 11:20am
Anza-Borrego has countless unique and interesting places to visit, but add water, and you have a whole new wonderland.
There's a good reason that places like Hellhole Canyon, Borrego Palm Canyon or Pena Spring in Culp Valley draw lots of visitors.
Available natural sources of water at those locations means more and different kinds of plants and animals.
There's another easily accessible place in the Anza-Borrego Desert that many visitors simply drive right past.
In the heart of Coyote Canyon is a place known as Lower Willows. Here, Coyote Creek is often flowing on the surface, providing abundant water for wildlife and spring wildflowers.
Even on a dry year, the banks of the creek are lined with clusters of brittlebush, verbena and various species of cactus, festooned in spring blossoms.
Lower Willows is also a popular birding area with many species rarely seen in the desert, including Virginia rails, black phoebe, lesser goldfinch and hummingbirds.
The vegetation along the creek offers some shade, which makes it such a pleasure to just comfortably sit for a while and observe all of the bird activity.
If you are lucky and there is not too much human activity, bighorn sheep may show up on the surrounding hillsides, or a curious kitfox meander by, while a chuckwalla lizard suns itself on a nearby rock.
Lower Willows is located in Coyote Canyon, five miles northwest from the end of the pavement on Di Giorgio Road. In dry weather this can be driven in a high clearance vehicle, but it can become a challenging four-wheel drive route in wet weather.
Check at the Visitor Center for road conditions if in doubt.