About 15 minutes south of Palm Springs is a beautiful place called Indian Canyons. Located on the tribal land of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians are miles of trails through desert hills and lush canyon oases.
Check out this split rock you have to drive through to get to Palm Canyon!
A tribal ranger recommended the Victor Trail in Palm Canyon, followed by the Canyon Loop Trail in Andreas Canyon.
As we walked behind the trading post we were greeted with an amazing view of the canyon below — the world’s largest California Fan Palm oasis. Entering the oasis felt like we had been transported to a tropical island.
The towering palms provided a lot of shade as we walked through Palm Canyon. As soon as we turned onto the Victor Trail, we were back in the sun, looking out over the desert. Instead of palm trees and sand, we had barrel cactus and boulders.
Those giant palm trees started looking pretty small as we climbed the hill.
Over at Andreas Canyon, half of the Canyon Loop Trail took us along a ridge above the oasis, and the other half ran right along the face of the canyon wall. That was pretty cool. On one side of the trail was a small stream and huge palm trees, on the other was this towering wall of huge rocks.
You know the important things to bring hiking: water, sunblock, etc., but there are two extra things you should bring to Indian Canyons. First, a picnic! There are lots of picnic tables near the oases in Palm Canyon and Andreas Canyon. A really cool spot for lunch. Second, bring wipes to clean your legs at the end of the day! (And don’t forget to shake all the sand out of your shoes, too!)
“It’s 30 degrees cooler AND we get to ride an aerial tram?!” Yup, heading up to Mt San Jacinto State Park for Thanksgiving was the obvious choice. A very steep ride took us up 8500ft in just 11 minutes.
The tram car might look small in that photo, but it was actually quite spacious. And it rotates! It’s a very slow turn, so it’s not disorienting, and gives everyone a chance to see the views below. (Or straight ahead, if you’re short and stuck in the middle!)
The upper tram station has a couple of lookout balconies, a cafe, restaurant, and a gift shop. Just outside are a few short trails and the Mt San Jacinto State Park.
We packed day bags for the Round Valley trail, but the park ranger said it was too icy and we should stick to the short trails near the tram station. “He fell twice,” she said, pointing to another ranger, “and he never falls.” Did I forget to mention—there was snow up there! I was glad we followed the ranger’s advice when we came across some slippery parts of the nature trails. The icy patches were only a few feet long here and there, but you know I was freaking out!
The trails led us to big trees, big rocks, and big views…
…which led to big appetites! The tram station cafe served a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and it was delicious!
Thank you for following our adventures this year!
We got up before 6am, ON A WEEKEND, to see hot air balloons launch from Cathedral City. What happened when we arrived? Cancelled! Only one balloon went up for tethered rides. But we were rewarded for getting up early with this vivid rainbow above the San Jacinto Mountains.
In the afternoon we went hiking at Whitewater Preserve. The hills on either side blocked the sun, so it was shaded and cool. The ground near the small river was very soft grey sand, and there were smooth river rocks everywhere.
In other areas the trail passed over a small stream and through a small crop of very tall river reeds (only a few steps really, but that part freaked me out).
The Preserve is surrounded by the San Gorgonio Wilderness. For real, there is a sign that says you are entering the wilderness:
Although I suggested we might not be ready for actual wilderness, we kept on the path anyway and came upon the Pacific Crest Trail. We walked on that for a short bit before heading back.
Thankfully there were no rattlesnake or mountain lion sightings!
This road is really fun. As the name suggests, you start out in the desert amid palm trees and wind your way through the San Bernardino National Forest, to discover small mountain villages surrounded by pine trees.
We started in Palm Desert and stopped in Idyllwild before completing the loop back to the valley. The first part of this drive switchbacks up the desert hills. The road is often narrow and it feels like you’re in a little rock canyon.
We passed dozens of beautiful Porsche 356’s driving the opposite way. Where were they all coming from?!
There are some scenic vista pull-outs along the drive, some with short nature trails. It’s amazing how high you climb in a short time. Can you see that looping road we drove up?
And then, ta-da! You’re in the forest! Idyllwild is a cute little village with a handful of shops and restaurants. We learned at the history center — a small log cabin — that the area is popular for rock climbing. The docent also told us that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis were there a couple of weeks ago, among other tidbits about pioneer life and Elvis Presley movies.
On the drive back, we caught this amazing sunset! (We also got stuck in a traffic jam so bad that people turned off their cars and walked around to find out what was happening. But a nice view of the city lights below and a bag of kettle corn made the time pass quickly.)
The Architectural Icons Walking Tour began with a stop at this large stone mural to hear about the history of Palm Springs.
We then visited a few iconic buildings in downtown, and the tour ended at the Architecture and Design Center. Our small tour group was friendly, our guide was knowledgeable, and we learned quite a bit about local design history.
We’ve also been walking around the neighborhoods quite a bit looking at the cool houses. (Ok, Kenan is walking for exercise, I am the one looking for the Desert Modern houses!)
Did you notice that none of these homes has a front lawn full of grass? Most front “lawns” around here are actually full of gravel, with lots of palm trees and cactus plants adding the greenery.