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Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jeep and Photo Adventure

Every time we go camping, we really enjoy staring up at the stars. We’ve tried to capture the beauty of the night sky before, but with poor planning, it never turned out as awesome as it did in our heads. Most of the time, the moon was too bright, there was too much light pollution, or the foreground just wasn’t interesting enough. So rather than going out to try again, we decided to enlist the help of someone who is experienced with shooting the Milky Way.

Borrego Jeep Photo Tours was the perfect introduction to what we needed. After meeting our guide, Aaron Dennis, we hopped into his jeep and headed to our destination. There is a ton of history in Anza-Borrego State Park and Aaron is well versed in it. During his day jeep tours, he takes you to some of the most interesting rock formations and Native American sites. At night, he uses that knowledge to navigate to the perfect spots to shoot after dark.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jeep and Photo Adventure.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jeep and Photo Adventure.

Once we arrived to our spot for the night, we took out our equipment and scoped out the area. We found a few potential places to shoot and just had to wait for the stars. While waiting, he showed us the basics of how he sets up his shots and also some tips and tricks to light the foreground for some stunning images. Once it got dark enough, we started to shoot, adjust, shoot again, and adjust again until we got the shots we wanted. We spent a couple of hours shooting, but out there you can really lose track of time.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jeep Tours.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Long Exposure Night Photography.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Night Photography (Things to Do in Borrego Springs).
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Night Photography (Things to Do in Borrego Springs).
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Jeep and Photo Adventure.

All photos except #2 were shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and 17-35 mm / 2.8L lens.

If you’re new to night photography, this is a great way to start. You get to learn some basic skills and extra tips & tricks to go hone the skills on your own. If you’ve already perfected the art of shooting the stars, Aaron is also a great resource to find the best places to shoot. He’s explored so much of Anza-Borrego State Park and can take you to some amazing sites that you might not otherwise find. If you’re not interested in shooting at all, you can take his jeep tours and explore the park during the day. Since he’s also been a portrait photographer for over 25 years, instead of using your selfie stick, you can have him take a few shots of you out in the park too (he took the last one of us)!


  • July is when the milky way is most brilliant.
  • Be sure to check the moon schedule. You want to be shooting within 5 days before or after the new moon to ensure it’s dark enough to shoot the stars.
  • It can get very hot in the summer, even at night! Temperatures were over 100 at sunset when we visited in mid-June. It cooled off a little during the night, but you can still feel the heat.
  • If you’re making your way out to do the tour, give yourself some time to explore the area and look out for the sculptures of Borrego Springs (there are 130 of them!)
  • If you’re driving from San Diego, fill up your tank before the drive out there. Gas stations are far and few between, and they are expensive! You can also stop in at Julian for some delicious apple pie and apple cider since it’s on the way.
  • See the 9 stargazing events you don’t want to miss in 2015.


Would you want to explore Anza Borrego State Park during the night or day?
Have you dabbled in astrophotography? Would you want to?

xoxo estherJacob

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