By Greg Illes
Sprawled across the back lots of Borrego Springs, California, are dinosaurs. And prehistoric camels. Miners, farm workers, battling bighorn sheep and, yes, a monstrous sea serpent – well, to be more precise, a desert serpent.
The brown rust of the iron sculptures doesn’t glint in the sun, in fact it blends gently into the desert until you realize what you’re staring at. There are well over a hundred different sculptures, each as imaginative and fantastic as the next, and all as near to life-size as the artist could manage.
The whole concept began back in 2001 when Ricardo Breceda’s daughter asked for a dinosaur for Christmas. “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it” was never better advice. Ricardo’s daughter got her wish, in the form of a 20-foot-tall, 45-foot-long T-Rex. How’s that for a stocking-stuffer?
The Christmas whim turned into a years-long hobby, and in 2007, Ricardo’s work was discovered by Dennis Avery. Avery was pretty well-off, and he decided to amplify Breceda’s work into something truly remarkable. Avery commissioned over a hundred works of metal art, all to be situated on his property at Galleta Meadows. When Avery died in 2012, there were even provisions for ongoing care and repair of the remarkable collection.
Even if you’re an old hand and have been to the place before, there appear to be some new sculptures added (at least I have not seen them before), and a major part of the collection was recently moved – so it’s likely worth a re-visit, and be sure to get new maps of the exhibits.
Despite a fair amount of publicity and no small number of web presences, Galleta Meadows is still not widely known among western RVers. And in fact, it’s not even hard to get to, although you certainly do have to know that it’s there, or you’ll drive right by.
The sculptures are spread out over literally miles of desert, so the best way to visit is by combination wheels and feet. Plan on at least a couple of hours to explore them up close and appreciate the work, imagination and creativity of the artist.
The town is not on any major highway, but it’s about a three-hour drive west of Quartzsite, or two hours south of Palm Springs. Situated north of the gorgeous Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there are BLM lands for the boondockers and RV parks for the hookup-travelers; the whole area just begs for a nice leisurely visit and exploration.
A Google search for “Ricardo Breceda,” “Galleta Meadows” or “Borrego Springs metal art” will turn up more links and information than we have space to include here. Gather some more knowledge, print out a map or two, and have a magical time.
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his excellent blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.