Local Lowdown: Coachella Valley & Greater Palm Springs Area

by Katie Martinez on October 18, 2018


The Inland Empire, situated east of Los Angeles, incorporates the vast deserts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and most notably: the Coachella Valley.  Although it is probably most recognizable for the annual festival named after its location, the valley is home to beautiful desert landscapes and has plenty of trails to explore.

Many people make their way to the Coachella Valley during the winter when the desert climate is most comfortable, and the views the most beautiful. Although, hiking and various outdoor adventures are available year round as there’s definitely no shortage of thing to see and do.

Oasis Hikes

Oasis Hikes vary in degree of difficulty depending on what you’re looking for. These trails and preserves showcase the natural beauty of the desert and the history of the natives who still reside there. Some of these trails reside on reservation lands, so please plan accordingly.

1. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

2. Whitewater Preserve (3.5 – 5 miles)

3. Coachella Valley Preserve

4. The Indian Canyons Trails

5. Bear Creek Canyon (9 miles RT, strenuous)

The San Jacinto Mountains

From the valley, there is one mountain that stands out: Mt. San Jacinto, standing at 10,833 ft. elevation. The mountain is accessible from a variety of locations: the PCT trails from the South, the Idyllwild Marion Mountain Trail, the Cactus to Clouds trail from Palm Springs, or for a more leisurely assent, the Palm Springs Aerial Tram.  The San Jacinto Mountains are also home to many campsites and lakes ready to be explored.

Desert Views

The desert offers some of the greatest opportunities for stargazing, which is often why so many stargazers flock to the area during astronomical events such as meteor showers or a lunar eclipse. There are two observatories that offer a closer look at the universe, and different groups offer stargazing night tours, the Rancho Mirage Observatory and Gargan Optics Observatory.

Unique Experiences

If hiking doesn’t suit your fancy, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the desert. Check out these adventures for a unique perspective on the Coachella Valley.

1. Horseback Riding – there are a number of stables and ranches in the area that offer horseback riding tours and adventures.

2. Cycling – If it’s not too hot, cycling can be a great way to explore the desert as well as get some physical exercise! More information.

3. Ariel Adventures – Experience the vastness of the Coachella Valley for yourself by hot air balloon or prop plane!

4. Off-roading – Take the road less traveled and experience the desert off the beaten path. Check out this map for the best places to start.

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