Mar. 26-30, 2025 Prepare your lenses and camera bags: Beautiful desert vistas, wildflowers, and wildlife await you on this nature photography excursion to Southern California's Anza-Borrego.

Experience the rugged desert charm of Anza-Borrego State Park. Take in sweeping vistas of the colorful Borrego badlands, trek through palm canyons, photograph desert washes, and explore the unique flora and fauna hidden in this pristine desert landscape. Anza-Borrego is known for its stunning wildflower superbloom, iconic desert wildlife (including bighorn sheep), an entire forest of red ocotillo plants, and the darkest skies in Southern California. You’ll join Gayle Laird, the Academy's senior photographer, for photography instruction in the field, covering skills from wide-angle landscapes to close-up macro photography to long lens techniques and more. For novices and experts alike!

Explore more details below!

Save your spot!

Click the "Register now" button below to reserve your spot and submit your trip deposit. 

Please note: You must be an Academy member or donor to register for this trip.

Image of Gayle Laird

Your Academy expert

Gayle Laird, Senior Photographer

Gayle Laird is a photographer and artist specializing in storytelling and content creation for cultural institutions. Laird leads the Academy’s photography department and co-manages the BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition.

Image of Desert Big Horn Sheep

Trip highlights

  • Explore the wildflower bloom-filled landscapes of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Click here for a sneak peek!
  • Expand your landscape and wildlife photography skills in guided excursions with Gayle Laird, the Academy's senior photographer.
  • Test out different photography equipment and chat through finishing processes during daily group discussions and tutorials.
  • Show-and-tell your wonderful photography to your travel companions!

Day 1 (Wednesday, March 26) Arrive in San Diego: Spend your first night in San Diego and enjoy a welcome dinner and gear chat with the whole group.

Day 2 (Thursday, March 27): Passenger van transfer to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and get settled in at the Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort. Enjoy a sunset landscape photo excursion to Font’s Point overlooking the Borrego badlands.

Day 3 (Friday, March 28): Early morning photo excursion to Borrego Palm Canyon, a magnificent fan palm oasis featuring bighorn sheep sightings, red ocotillo plants, and impressive floral displays during peak season. After lunch, follow the blooms and search for wildflowers at Cactus loopTrail, Hellhole Canyon, or Calcite Mine.

Day 4 (Saturday, March 29): Head out on an early morning hike to the slot canyon nestled in the heart of Anza Borrego and capture the beauty of the natural rock formation. Spend the afternoon exploring other local landmarks including Borrego Springs sculpture garden, Clark Dry Lake, petroglyphs, or Salton Sea.

Day 5 (Sunday, March 30) Departure: Early risers can fit in one final sunrise photo excursion at Font’s Point and then it’s time to head back to San Diego for airline departures.



  • $1,800 based on double occupancy
  • $2,350 based on single occupancy
  • +$550 for a third or fourth person add-on

Payment schedule:

  • A $500 deposit is required to reserve your spot.
  • Full payment due December 1, 2024.
  • Cancellations received before December 1, 2024, will be assessed a cancellation fee of $500 per person.
  • Cancellations received on or after December 1, 2024, are subject to a 100% penalty of all deposits and payments, regardless of the booking date.

What's included:

  • Lodging upon arrival in San Diego and at the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort
  • Transportation throughout the trip as designated in the itinerary
  • All meals from Thursday evening through Sunday morning

What's NOT included:

  • Airfare to and from San Diego
  • Room service
  • Personal room charges (phone calls, baggage charges, laundry, etc.)
  • Travel or medical insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Camera equipment

Travel insurance:

  • We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance as the cancellation penalty listed above and in the trip registration will apply. A list of travel insurance providers made available upon request.