Walking in the Desert near Palm Springs

Palm Springs, CA is in a desert. On our recent vacation there, we toured homes as part of Modernism Week (link to early post). On other days, we visited the desert.

The San Jacinto Mountains dominate Palm Springs, so you know you’re not in Northern California (or Kansas) anymore. But the lusciousness of Palm Springs makes you forget the desert.

Barrel Cactus

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is less than an hour away to the east of Palm Springs. The 794,000 acres of park are 2-4000’ feet above sea level and cover the convergence of the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Most of it is designated wilderness – take note you serious hikers.

Joshua Tree visitor

Less strenuous trails wind through the desert close to visitor centers, roadways and campsites. Two of my favorites were the Cholla garden, thriving in perfect conditions for this painful cactus and the monzogranite formations that are 100 million years in the making.

Cholla Cactus

Desert Split Rock

The park also has a palm oasis near the southeast entrance. And in the northwest portion of the park, Joshua Trees stand out against the sky.

Joshua Tree

We didn’t have time to explore the more modern history of the 1800s when the desert was homesteaded and gold was mined. (Mining still exists near the park.) But this is a park to explore more thoroughly. Visit the Joshua Tree National Park website – and when visiting, pay attention to the fact that high desert can be cold.

Desert Formation

Indian Canyons

Last year, we visited the Indian Canyons just to the south of Palm Springs. Having a friend tour with us this year, we needed to visit the palm canyons again.

Palm Canyon

For more information on trails and about the area visit Indian Canyons website. You could hike 15 miles out one canyon. We took the short loop of Andreas Canyon.

Andreas Canyon overlook

Andreas Canyon walls

Andreas Canyon Pastel Artist

Living Desert

We also went to the Living Desert again spending more time in the various recreated desert environments of North America. Of course, when a massive cat is going to poise for you in the daytime, you have to take a picture. The Living Desert also has an African section of birds and animals.

Living Desert Cheetah

Living Desert

Within the park is a 3 mile trail into the Colorado desert. For more information, click on the Living Desert.

City/Suburban Desert

Desert plants and palms are part of the landscape of the Palm Springs area. At the new art museum in Palm Desert, the plants helped illustrate a beautiful sculpture garden. It’s across Hwy 111 from a shopping center.

Palm Desert Sculpture Garden

Palm Springs Museum in Palm Desert

desert sculpture

Palm Springs has been a joy to visit – click on our Modernism post and our visit, last year. We’re not sure about next year, but we haven’t been to Anza-Borega Desert State Park or the Salton Sea yet…

Words by Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

Andreas Creek

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