I stayed there the night of March 2nd, 2019. It was very windy and fairly cold. I think the actual temperature would have been fine if not for the windchill and spitting rain from the clouds stuck on the mountain a few miles away. The wind blew the moisture across.
Free primitive campground with clean and stocked pit toilets (depending on who went before you anyway). The road in is rough but can be navigated with a passenger vehicle (I drove a Prius on them). I’ve hit bottom coming out of California business driveways more often.
It’s located well up the mountain from Borrego Springs on a scenic highway. Borrego Springs is a Dark Sky community, so there’s good stargazing.
You are supposed to use a metal container for fires, but the site where I camped had a fire ring that had been used. I don’t think I’d have had a fire even if I’d had a metal container. The wind was that strong (and I’m a Kansas boy, I know strong winds). I also saw discarded gas cylinders that I was going to pack out but got distracted. I’ll never be able to wrap my head around people go want to be in nature but have no problem trashing it out or burning it down. That said, it was only my campsite where I saw these issues.
All in all, a very picturesque stay, but the wind will rock you.
Free camping! Located off the S22, border of Anza Borrego,just 3.5 miles past the town of Ranchita. If you keep going down the hill you'll hit Borrego Springs. Keep an eye out for the Culp Valley Camp sign because otherwise there isn't much indication. Barely any service so make sure you prepare well for an extended stay. It does extremely windy here, especially in early fall with the Santa Ana winds. Hot during day, frigid at night. It's primitively camping so No water, picnics tables, fire rings, and charcoal grills, but vault toilets and ground to put a tent on are available. In Culp Valley there is TONS of boulders to climb; varying from beginner v0's to advanced bouldering. Check out mountain project to check out some routes or just go spot out some of your own! This is place is definetly worth a weekend trip, but Shhh try to keep it a secret. ;)
Campground coordinates: 33.220541, -116.458858 (33° 13′ 13.94″N 116° 27′ 31.88″W)
Pro's: Close to Joshua Tree, Close to Sultan Sea, Plenty of geographical fun. Hiking is lovely. FREE sites, first come first serve.
Con's: Hot most times of year, minimal animates so bring what you need, Fills up fast so be sure you get there early in the day with back up planes.
We went to Culp Valley in April just in time to explore the Anza-Borrego State Park during an especially rainy desert season. There were wildflowers everywhere and despite high heat during the day it was so bad you felt like you were in the desert. It's a beautiful time to explore. There is a small city just outside the park where you can get any need supplies, lunch or do some antique/thrifting.
The campground is just West of the state park and at a higher elevation. The sites are first come first serve, and best of all they are FREE! The ground is sand and rock, and outside of clean vault toilets there are no amenities. We had a decent spot with three tents set up and brought our own fire ring. No fires allowed outside a fire ring/pit you bring along. It's a smaller campground and is well known in SoCal but if you arrive before afternoon you'll usually find a spot.
Because of it's location on hill it is subject to gusty winds. Keep that in mind. You will get dusty and check the weather so you set up camp facing away from the wind or you'll get a full tent of sand. The night we were there most recently they broke wind gust records which was unexpected. It was a long night of whooshing wind coming up and over the desert hills before slamming into our tent at speeds nearing tornado strength. That sucked but that was more our fault than the campgrounds.
It's less of a leisure camping spot and there were no big RVs the times we visited. There is a reservable state park campsite nearby if you need more amenities.
This area is know for it's stargazing and the night sky in the desert is incredible. The lights from the nearest town are blocked by the rock.