*notcot in travel , 13:54

Desert View Tower and Boulder Park- 10.28.08

driving0.jpgOk, this one is going to sound a bit weird, i probably should have looked things up on the internet before i scared myself at the Desert View Tower & Boulder Park… b/c now that i’ve had the time to sit and search i totally wish it hadn’t been super windy and SUPER creepy when i stopped by… to be fair, we’re cruising along the 8 in the middle of the desert, suddenly from sand dunes it turns to crazy mountains of boulders, and then i see a little castle tower, and we decide to pull off and go see what’s up… pulling off, we head up what we’re warned is a dead end (really early on!) but keep going to see what’s up there, pass a creepy abandonedish feeling rusty trailer park, with an underpass with giant scarecrow like branches (think giant blair witch twigs) with hoodies and clothes on them blocking the way… then we see a very desolate tower with a few pretty old cars in the lot. Really it all looked super spooky! But according to the internet its a fun place where kids run around on boulders…. Anyhow, now that i’ve done my research i kind of want to go back… but with a large group of friends, since the place really gave me the chills! Check out the pics from the place and a few other random roadtripping pictures from Tuscon to San Diego on the 8 yesterday!

So here’s the new info i just found about the park:

A review about what an awesome kid friendly place it is: Roadside America

from Detour Web Databases - which got quotes from the full history at Imperial County website

“In 1920 Bert L. Vaughn started building his Desert View Tower as a monument to the early Western pioneers who crossed the desert. The thick-walled, circular three-storey tower was constructed of large blocks of local stone and completed in the Fifties by another builder, Dennis Newman.”

“M.T. Ratcliffe, a retired engineer, came to the area for health reasons in the Thirties. He set about carving faces and animals, real and mythical, into the huge boulders around the Tower.”

“Many of them, especially the powerful skull-like faces, follow the natural shapes and features of the rock, while the lions, snakes, and lizards blend easily with the desert landscape. The carvings and statues became known as Boulder Park Caves.”

To get to the tower take the In-Ko-Pah exit from Interstate 8, and travel east along the northern side of the highway for about half a mile.

Driving along…

Sand dunes!

Cruising through piles/mountains of boulders!

See, they are really everywhere!

… and HUGE!

… and go on forever…

Then we see this crazy castle thing…




Crazy view out over the Anza Borrego Desert…

Silly boulder turtle as you exit…

… and pretty typography on the signs, but i half expected the gates to be closed on the way out! I don’t know what it was, but the whole place was just eerily desolate…

Random windmills…

… and we found our way back into greener areas…

So, i know, i sound totally silly NOW for being spooked by the place, but really, we didn’t see a soul there when we went through!!! Someday, i’ll go back and climb some boulders… =)

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6 Notes

Hey folks… I had a great experience today coming back from Plaster Blaster the desert… Finally, after more than sixty years of passing by, both on the old road (US 80) and the new I-8, I was driving alone with no schedule to meet and took a trip back in history….

Desert View tower was built around 1900 by the folks that built the first road up from the desert and over the mountains East of San Diego… The main attraction to me thought are the animal carvings in the granite boulders that are strewn behind the tower. There is a wonderful documentary on all of this; done by Huell Howser in 2002… Google ”California Gold” and click on ‘Desert View Tower’…

I first came thru here around 1952 in my dad’s 1937 Packard… and yes, it did overheat and we had to let it cool off dip water from those tanks you still see on the up side of the divided highway… Later, when I joined the Navy, I took the ‘Old Grey Dog’ (Greyhound) back from Boot Camp right by the tower and down to Tucson… a 12 hour trip on a two lane road… without AC back in the fifties…

Later I traveled with my own family in a variety of Chevies… ‘52, ‘56, 59 on the old two lane… Later, when the I-8 went thru that cut the trip down to 6-8 hours… depending on ‘diaper stops’ for my new daughter and side trips to Picacho Peak.. Many great trips to the desert for camping with my two sons Mike and John… never stopping at Desert View Tower but it has been on my ‘Bucket List’ for years…: )

----- Dave Beekman 05.11.12 01:22

The tower has become one of our favorite places and we vow to stop there every trip we take now to San Felipe. Once you get past the creepiness of the abandoned buildings, etc, the tower is delightful-with beautiful artwork, incense burning and the wind chimes singing. The owner is quite charming-I wonder if he’s married or has a significant other??

----- Heidi 01.12.08 08:53

it’s a great place to visit, the owner is really nice. There are three houses behind the tower, one for him, one for his mom and one he rents out. Did you go climb the rocks?

----- Juliana 30.10.08 11:44

good thing blight or famine didn’t keep you away! this sort of reminds me of a place I visited in Kenya this summer. Stone Mountain Resort. Check it out

----- paul 29.10.08 10:24

what is “the 8”? i’m guessing it’s a highway.

----- michael 28.10.08 18:35

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