Discover the natural side of Palm Springs with a visit to these remarkable oases. Home to dense stands of towering California fan palms, these canyons are places of surprising life and beauty, with wildlife including desert bighorn sheep, and the sound of birdsong and trickling streams.
Each of the Indian Canyons, all located within Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribal land on the west side of Palm Springs, has its own distinctive character. One of the most popular is Tahquitz (pronounced “tah-keetz”) Canyon; where you can join a guided hike or walk on your own to the base of a 60-foot/18-meter waterfall—note that in dry years and seasons it might not be more than a trickle). Movie buffs might recognize these falls as the entrance to Shangri-La in Frank Capra's 1937 film classic Lost Horizon. Relax to watch birds flit in the filtered light; also follow trails to see Indian rock art. The visitor center features exhibits and an informative short film, and highlights the region’s Native American culture.
Palm and Andreas Canyons offer footpaths that lead past colorful rock formations and to streamside palm oases. Andreas Canyon has more than 150 species of plants within a half-mile/a three-quarter-km radius; see how many species you can spy along the twisting, 2-mile/3.2-km out-and-back trail into Murray Canyon. The canyon twists and turns, so you never know what’s around the next bend—soaring red cliffs, stately fan palms, and barrel cactus that swell after spring rains. And at trail’s end, you reach the Seven Sisters, a beautiful terraced waterfall (flow varies with rainfall and season).
The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool—the desert region is a sensory feast.
Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.
Death Valley National Park holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded (129°F/54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing springtime wildflowers. The oasis-like Palm Springs region (2 hours east of L.A. and 3 hours northeast of San Diego) has golf resorts, midcentury modern architecture, and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
For all of the desert’s natural splendour and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...
You could call it a monumental achievement: In February 2016, three new national monuments were created, protecting a combined total of 1.8 million acres of California desert. The names of the...