Discover the natural side of Greater Palm Springs with a visit to Indian Canyons, a remarkable collections of 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.
Things to Do at Indian Canyons
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 hike to the base of a 60-foot 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. (For golfers, Indian Canyons Golf Resort is a must while in the area—the former Canyon Country Club boasts two 18-hole courses and was a favorite of Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.)
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 radius; see how many species you can spy along the twisting, two-mile 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).
Guided Tours of Indian Canyons
From October through June, take one of the morning or afternoon ranger-led interpretive hikes, free with paid admission. Visitors can also opt to go with one of the companies in the area that provide guided desert adventures. With Red Jeep Tours, visitors can learn about the lifestyle and culture of the area’s native Cahuilla Indians on the naturalist-guided, 1-mile "Ancient Footprints" Walking Tour; the outing also includes a visit to a hidden water cave and one of the largest natural palm oases in North America. Best of the Best Tours also offer hikes led by a naturalist who’s knowledgeable in local culture and history; their tours last around 2.5 hours. For a more comprehensive desert experience, Viator offers a 10-hour excursion that includes pickup from your hotel or place of choice in Los Angeles and makes stops at Palm Springs, Indian Canyons, Palm Canyon Drive, and San Jacinto Mountain.
Things to Do Near Indian Canyons
There’s so much to do within an hour of Indian Canyons—luxury resorts as well as world-class golfing and shopping await in Palm Springs, while a more Old West experience is to be had at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Joshua Tree National Park offers a multitude of outdoor adventures, from rock climbing to camping to guided tours to excellent stargazing, and Palm Desert’s The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, where visitors can see 1,400 species of desert creatures and even ride a camel.