Sometimes referred to as sculptures in the desert, one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Southern California can be found, free of charge, just a few kilometres beyond Borrego Springs.
Borrego Springs itself is a small village, with few shops and even fewer restaurants. Yet it has become a significant wintering area for those seeking to escape cold northern winters. Recreational vehicle sites are plentiful, as are plush homes available to rent or buy.
The nearby Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of the reasons. It is the second largest state park in the contiguous United States. While mainly a desert now, this area was not always that way, as paleontologists proved from their discoveries of fossilized remains found through different periods in its formation.
Fossils that were unearthed date back up to six million years. They include Mammoth skeletons, saber tooth tigers, elephant like mammals, shark and whale remains, and the largest flying bird known in the Northern Hemisphere, to mention only a few.
On land owned by the now deceased Dennis Avery, you will find most, if not all, of the birds, animals and mammals from those prehistoric periods of time.
Scattered around a 16 kilometre square, on Avery’s Galleta Meadows Estate near Borrego Springs, are over 130 of these dynamic sculptures, seemingly rising above the desert floor. They are sufficiently paced apart from one another to allow ample room for automobiles to drive by, or stop to let the occupants admire the outstanding achievement this artistry truly represents.
The sculptures are not only of animals and mammals. The people who formed the foundation of this state are also represented, from the original natives who occupied the land, to the white pioneers who helped settle and grow it.
The sculptures come as a complete and shocking surprise to many who are travelling by the estate, not realizing they have been placed there deliberately and strategically.
The background of the man who created these sculptures is a story unto itself. Ricardo Breceda, originally from Durango, Mexico, was not an artist. But one day, at his daughter’s behest, he created a statue of a dinosaur.
It was only then that he realized his talent and began to use it. Avery, hearing about this budding artist, sought him out and commissioned him to begin recreating the history of the area through his sculpting.
It would only be the beginning for Breceda’s talents to be shown as he carried on and has become a recognized artist regardless of his humble beginnings.
If you go, in Borrego Springs be sure to visit the Tribal Trading Post where you will find sculptures like those in the desert, and a most unique collection of antiques from around the world.