Frequently Asked Questions
Q:What is an adventure tour anyway?
You are more a part of things than on a regular tour where you just sit and listen. We don’t clobber you with a P.A. system description; you’re getting out of the vehicle and checking it all out yourself. Our driver/guides stress the fragile beauty of the natural surroundings. And you’ll learn a lot!
Q:Are you legitimate and official?
We are a licensed passenger carrier with the California Public Utilities Commission, Permit #TCP18546S, inspected yearly by the California Highway Patrol, and sanctioned as an official concessionaire of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Seven percent of each tour’s gross goes to the California State Park system.
Q:What is the ride like?
Terrain, drought conditions and vehicle suspension all affect the ride. Generally our desert excursions involve some bumps, bounces and rattles. We won’t be flying off cliffs at 80 mph or crawling along pavement. The off-road ride is somewhere between “Yee-haw!” and “Jeeves, I seem to have spilled some of my tea.” The thrills come mostly from the scenery, but people with bad backs or similar conditions should not partake in a desert excursion.
Q:Should we make reservations?
Yes, advanced reservations are required. You can make reservations online or over the phone: 760-767-1232. Currently we accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
Q:Do you have a regular schedule?
Our schedule varies according to seasonal demand, temperature and length of day. Check out our online booking page or contact us directly for the timetable planned for your arrival.
Q:What should I bring?
For the desert tours, you should wear closed-toe shoes and dress in layers appropriate for the time of year, keeping in mind that temps can plunge once the sun drops behind the mountains. Also be sure to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, sports bra (for the bounce!) — and, of course, a camera!
Q:What do you provide?
Our vehicles are stocked with iced water with fresh lemons, snacks for the 2.5-hour excursions and complete bag lunches for the 5-hour and 8-hour tours. The camping trips and wine tours include a gourmet barbecue.
Q:What are the lunches like?
Lunches for the desert tours are created by Kendall’s Cafe with a generous choice of roast beef, turkey, ham, tuna and vegetarian sandwiches on hoagie rolls or wheat bread. The sandwiches are served with cheese, lettuce and tomato, all of which are easy to remove if you don’t want them. Condiments are on the side. There’s also fruit, potato chips and a dessert such as a homemade brownie. We’ll take your order when you reserve.
Q:Are there restrooms?
Like Mom and Dad used to say, “You’d better go now before we leave.” Actually, aside from the restrooms at headquarters, there are pit toilets located near the entrances to some of our routes, but there are plenty of shrubs and it is an adventure tour after all. The Julian Wine Tours have lots of bathroom access. For the camping trips, we create a custom latrine with a view to live for.
Q:What is your cancellation policy?
If you need to cancel a day tour, please provide 48 hours’ notice. Otherwise, there will be a 50% charge. However, in the case of a no-show or a same-day cancellation (i.e., you cancel the morning of your scheduled tour), there’s a 100% charge. Camping trips, seasonal wildflower tours, and private groups over 8 people require 72 hours’ notice or will incur a 50% charge. No-shows and day-of cancellations for those trips also incur a full charge.
Q:What happens if there’s bad weather?
Weather is a relative term in San Diego County. There could be a cold rain falling in San Diego and yet be sunny and warm in Borrego Springs (that’s why it’s the desert). Or it could be rainy near the base of the mountains and clear farther to the east. There may also be strong wind conditions. Some of these conditions make exploring the desert (Borrego Springs) or mountains (Julian) an interesting experience — to a point. Your safety and comfort are our biggest concern, so we will always err on the side of caution. If we decide to cancel a trip due to weather, you are at no obligation to pay anything, but we make the call.
Q:Where do we check in?
For public desert tours, meet at our headquarters at 1233 Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs (details on About Page). Private desert tours come with an optional pick-up and drop-off service. For Julian Wine-Tasting Tours, we can pick you up at your Julian hotel/inn.
Q:Can we be picked up at our hotel?
For our regular public desert excursions, everyone meets at headquarters, although if you require a pick-up from one of Borrego Springs’ hotels we will try to accommodate you. A group taking a private excursion can arrange to be picked up from their local hotel, as can folks on the Private Jeep Tours and anyone participating in our Julian Wine-Tasting Tours. For a predetermined fee, groups from more distant locales can be transported to and from Borrego Springs or Julian via our 11-passenger van.
Q:What is the public tour minimum?
Please note that in order to run a public tour (as opposed to a private one), we need to have at least 4 people total signed up. If we do not meet the minimum, we will attempt to put you on a different tour or offer you a private tour at our current private-tour rates. In the event that we cannot accommodate you, we will fully refund your money.
Q:Can I bring alcohol?
Yes, you may bring wine, beer or whatever. The view from Font’s Point is sometimes worthy of a toast of wine but, again, your safety is our main focus, so overindulging is not allowed on any California Overland daytime desert excursion or overnight. (Don’t worry: You’ll still have fun.)
Q:If we have a large group, can we customize our trip?
If you book a private group trip in advance, you can reserve a vehicle (or vehicles) for a minimum fee that will be your magic carpet ride to wherever you’d like to roam.
Q:Do you have group discounts?
Yes. The discounts vary based on the tour and group size. Give us a call to discuss it.
Q:Can people with disabilities participate?
While our excursions are not appropriate and possibly dangerous for some disabilities, California Overland will do its best to provide all people with full access to our various activities. Therefore we are committed to taking reasonable measures to accommodate people with disabilities who wish to take part in California Overland activities. To address accessibility, please contact us at least one week before your intended arrival to discuss accommodation of your specific needs. Our staff respects the individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
Q:Will the kids like it?
Riding around in a big 10-wheel military truck (or other off-road vehicle) — oh yeah! If they like the outdoors, they’ll love the experience.
Q:What is the youngest age for participating?
Three years old is what we recommend. The seats have lap belts, so we can accommodate your car seats and boosters.
Q:Should we tip our guide?
Tipping is customary but optional, just as in other guide- and transport-based businesses. If your guide has given you an exceptional experience full of great memories, please feel free to show your appreciation.