Border Field State Park feels a little bit like visiting the end of the earth. It also once was a vacation hotspot during the late 1800’s when people came here to enjoy the mild weather, the ocean breeze and a spa-like environment. Then, the area was converted into a naval base and became inaccessible to the public.
Only in the 1970’s did the area open once again, owned and operated by the State of California. Today, you can walk along the beach, drive up to the border or find the hiking trails. It’s generally much more quiet than other San Diego beaches.
Interpretive plaques also tell you why this park is so unique:
The largest coastal wetland not crossed by a freeway.
Mike McCoy and his wife Patricia spent many years fighting to keep this area the way you see it today. Developers throughout the 1900’s wanted to turn this area into a sprawling marina. When you visit, you can see that Tijuana has allowed urban sprawl. But not here. Instead, the reserve is one of the last wetlands in California that has not given way to urbanization.
A bird sanctuary along the Pacific Flyway.
Thanks to this environmental preservation, more than 370 types of birds either stop here to nest during their migration. Several endangered birds also are given sanctuary here.
The furthest corner of the United States and the boundary line between the U.S. and Mexico.
This is also the beginning of the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, which was established in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Several Boundary commissions came through here to establish the border’s precise location. Today, the border stretches into the ocean.
Only two decades ago, people recall being able to swim back and forth between the two countries. They would cross the beach and buy shrimp from the vendors in Tijuana. President Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 changed all that. Today, Border Patrol make sure people from either side don’t interact.
Inside Border Field State Park you’ll find Friendship Park, a destination so important, I leave it to a future post. Also, if you want tours of the border along the Tijuana River Valley, renegade retired Border Patrol Mike Harris gives rather derelict tours. I’ll be posting about him sometime in the future as well.
The park is maintained by the employees at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor’s Center, so ask them any specific questions you may have.
Address: 301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach, CA 91932