Driving along the remote SoCA S-3 highway, you might spy a horse as it rears off to the side of the road. Then, rising out of the flat desert landscape, an elephant appears. Alarmingly close by, a T-Rex bears its maw chasing a saber-tooth tiger.
This is not a mirage, but the work of artist/welder Ricardo Breceda, whose sculptures dot the Anza-Borrego Desert two hours east of San Diego. Dennis Avery, the now-deceased land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs (and heir to the Avery labels fortune), envisioned the idea of adding ‘free-standing art’ to his property with original steel welded sculptures created by ‘Perris Jurassic Park’ owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda based in Perris, California.
Sprinkled throughout the small town of Borrego Springs are over 130 meticulously crafted metal sculptures. Elephants, raptors, mammoths, sloths, and saber-toothed tigers prowl the desert off Borrego Springs Road north and south of the town proper. From ground-hugging desert tortoises to rearing horses, each rust-colored sculpture is filled with intricate detail–from the curling eyelashes of 10-foot high elephants to the shaved metal fur of the equally imposing sloths.
As large as these sculptures are, they can be tricky to find. The Galleta Meadows Estate website (*which is currently down) has a helpful online map. Elephants, sloths, camels, and raptors roam the roads north off Borrego Springs Road toward Henderson Canyon Road. South of Borrego Springs, Borrego Springs Road becomes S-3 as it slides toward Ocotillo Wells. Wild horses and raptors border the highway here before Yaqui Pass Road.