Somewhere in the harsh, sparse desert of Borrego Springs roam massive mammoths, serpent, saber tooth, gomphotherium, camel, birds and sloths. Really. And it's not some Hollywood movie set. In fact, it's one of the most awe-inspiring sculpture displays you may have never heard about.
I've covered other artistic and sculptural secrets around San Diego, including Queen Califia's Magical Garden, the Bear at UCSD and the Scripps Turd. But there's one collection of sculptures where the stark desert setting gives the artwork even more of a visual impact.
A Sculpture Vision for Galleta Meadows Estates
Dennis Avery, land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs envisioned the idea of adding free-standing art to his property with original steel welded sculptures created by artist/welder Ricardo Breceda, who is based in Perris, California.
The life-size or larger sculptures are of creatures that once roamed the Borrego Valley when it was a lush forest. Mammoths, camels, turtles, wild horses and giant sloths are some of the pieces that have been attracting the curious to town.
Avery, of the Avery Label fortune, owns about three square miles of undeveloped property throughout Borrego Springs. He commissioned Breceda in 2008 to create a collection of metal prehistoric creatures.
The Creation of Borrego Springs Sculptures
The display, dubbed “Sky Art” by Avery, was initiated in the spring of 2008 with the placement of a family of gomphotheres, prehistoric elephant-like mammals that roamed North America, including the San Diego area, almost 4 million years ago. The largest of Breceda's tusked creatures measures 12 feet tall and 20-feet long.
In just a few years, the collection grew to include sculptures of animals that were once found in the area, like sabertooth cats, giant tortoises, prehistoric camels, Columbian mammoths, Merriam’s tapirs, extinct horses, ground sloths and massive birds. Avery's quirky collection, many of which are visible from Borrego Springs Road, grew even more unique with the addition of -- somewhat incongruously -- human figures like a gold miner, Spanish padre, Native American, farm workers plus popular dinosaurs such as a spinosaurus, velociraptor, allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex.
In all, there are 129 figures of Breceda's creations.
The latest of Breceda's creations is probably the most spectacular -- a 350-foot sea serpent that seemingly burrows and emerges from the desert sand. With the head of a dragon and a rattlesnake's tail, the serpent, which cost around $40,000, took four months to craft, and another three months to erect it in Borrego Springs.
Although Ricardo Breceda's creations are part of Avery's Galleta Meadows Sky Art collection, the menagerie isn’t just situated in a single place. Most of the sculptures can be found along the Borrego Springs Road both north and south of Borrego Springs' downtown. Most of the collection is scattered north of Christmas Circle, the roundabout in the center of Borrego Springs. A number of other sculptures are displayed south of Christmas Circle along Borrego Springs Road before you get to Yaqui Pass Road.
How to See the Borrego Springs Sculptures
The Breceda creatures can easily be seen from your car while driving, but you can park your car off the pavement and get up close to take pictures. Just be careful since you're in the desert environment, so you'll need to take precautions because you're in rattlesnake country. In addition, be aware that there is traffic traveling at high speed along Borrego Springs Road.