Travel Date March 2021
A trip to the California high desert would be incomplete without visiting the large public art installation in Borrego Springs. The metal sculptures are sprinkled along the roadside in Galleta Meadows and are easily accessible to visitors 24/7.
Galleta Meadows is only a few miles from Anza Borrego Desert State Park and less than an hour’s drive from Joshua Tree National Park. Check out our Anza Borrego blog for a visitor’s guide to the park.
Are Galleta Meadows desert art sculptures worth visiting?
The craftmanship and scope of the Galleta Meadows sculptures are impressive. They are definitely worth visiting. Each sculpture was designed and created by self-taught metal artist, Ricardo Brecada. The volume and variety of the sculptures at Galleta Meadows add to the awe. I wouldn’t go to Joshua Tree National Park or Anza Borrego Desert State Park without visiting Galleta Meadows sculptures.
Galleta Meadows Desert Sculptures near Anza Borrego
Borrego Springs is home to over 130 metal sculptures in the desert around Galleta Meadows Estates. They are a public art display worth a detour to Borrego Springs. You do not want to miss the opportunity to see art in the desert on your Anza Borrego Desert State Park or Joshua Tree National Park trip.
How much does it cost to visit the desert art sculptures in Galleta Meadows?
The sculptures are free to visit and you do not need a State Park pass to visit the sculptures near Anza Borrego State Park.
Why are there sculptures in the desert?
Dennis Avery, heir to the Avery Dennison label making corporation and owner of Galleta Meadows Estate, envisioned turning his land into an open-air art gallery. He hired Ricardo Breceda to bring his vision to life.
Who made them?
Ricardo Brecada was born in Durango Mexico and has been living in California for over 25 years. He was working as a cowboy boot salesman when he traded a pair of boots for a welding machine.
Ricardo is a self-taught metal artist. His 6-year-old daughter, Lianna, asked for a dinosaur of her own for Christmas after watching Jurassic Park III. His first sculpture was a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex for his daughter’s Christmas present.
Ricardo’s hobby turned into a passion. And he has become a well-known sculptor designer. His most well-known works are located in Galleta Meadows in Borrego Springs California near Anza Borrego State Park. The 350 feet sea serpent swimming in the sand attracts visitors from around the world.
Are the sculptures on private land?
Galleta Meadows Estate is privately owned but visitors are welcome to tour the sculptures. They are located along the roadside and are accessible in any vehicle. We even saw some people visiting on bicycles. The outdoor exhibit is open 24/7.
How many metal sculptures are there at Anza Borrego?
Ricardo has created 130 metal sculptures for Galleta Meadows and they are installed in the desert around Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The artist claims he has finished the installation but new sculptures still appear occasionally.
What sculptures are at Galleta Meadows in Anza Borrego?
The sculptures are separated into three collections based on their inspiration. The collections are whim and fantasy, history and nature as well as fossil treasures. Here is an overview of the sculptures that can be found in each collection.
Whim & Fantasy Sculptures
- Sea serpent
- Tyrannosaurus Rex
History and Nature
- Gold miner & saguaro
- Spanish Padre
- Indian Head with full headdress
- Bighorn Sheep
- Scorpion and Grasshopper
- Farm Workers
- Juan Bautista de Anza
- Giant Tortoise
- African Elephant
- Camelids – llamas and camels
- Ground Sloth
- Sabretooth Cat
- Extinct Horse
- Aiolornis (a bird with 16 ft wingspan)
When is the best time to visit?
We visited Galleta Meadows in the late afternoon. The sun setting on the sculptures casts a beautiful golden glow. Sunset on a clear day is the best time to visit the sculptures for photography.
Summer is very hot in Borrego Springs. Therefore, spring or fall are the best times to visit. The spring Wildflower bloom would be a great time to plan your trip but it can be difficult to pinpoint.
Where can I find the Galleta Meadows Anza Borrego metal sculptures?
For our trip, I used That Adventure Life’s blog post to get GPS coordinates for the individual sculptures. We visited Galleta Meadows near sunset. Before we ran out of daylight we were able to visit about a dozen.
Sculpture maps are also available at several locations around Borrego Springs including the Anza Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center and the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Top Tips for Visiting Galleta Meadows Sculptures in Anza Borrego
- In my opinion, a few sculptures are enough to appreciate the craftsmanship. Don’t feel obligated to visit all 130. Choose a handful of sculptures to visit (preferably a few that are located in the same area) and prioritize those.
- Make sure to only drive on the well-traveled paths. Do not drive on loose sand. We saw a small sedan stuck up to their axles in loose sand after getting off the path.
- Get out of your car. Be sure to park your car and walk up to the sculptures. Getting close is the best way to really appreciate the detailed craftsmanship.
We enjoyed visiting the metal sculptures in Galleta Meadows while staying nearby. And we definitely wouldn’t visit Joshua Tree or Anza Borrego without a quick detour through Galleta Meadows.