top of page

Must-See Outdoor Activities in Palm Springs & Palm Desert

Palm Springs and Palm Desert, nestled in the heart of California's Coachella Valley, are not just about luxury resorts, golf courses, and spa retreats. These desert oases are surrounded by some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the United States, offering a plethora of outdoor activities for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. From the rugged beauty of Joshua Tree National Park to the serene vistas of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, the area is a playground for those looking to explore the great outdoors. Here are some must-see outdoor activities in Palm Springs and Palm Desert that promise to make your visit unforgettable.

1. Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

Just a short drive from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is a mesmerizing landscape of twisted, bristled Joshua trees and rugged rock formations. The park offers numerous hiking trails that cater to all levels of experience, from the easy and family-friendly Cap Rock Nature Trail to the challenging 8-mile Ryan Mountain hike. Each trail offers a unique perspective on the park's geological wonders and the diverse ecosystems within.


2. Exploring the Indian Canyons

The Indian Canyons, located on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation, are a must-visit for anyone coming to Palm Springs. Hike through Palm Canyon, the world's largest fan palm oasis, explore the serene Andreas Canyon, or take a leisurely walk through Murray Canyon. These canyons offer not just spectacular scenery but also a chance to learn about the indigenous Cahuilla people and their history.


3. Mountain Biking on the Art Smith Trail

For mountain biking enthusiasts, the Art Smith Trail offers an exhilarating ride through the desert landscape. This trail challenges riders with its rocky terrain and steep inclines, rewarding them with breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley. Make sure to pack plenty of water and start early to avoid the midday heat.


4. Aerial Tramway to San Jacinto Peak

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides a scenic journey from the desert floor to the cool climes of San Jacinto Peak. At the top, visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, or simply taking in the panoramic views of the valley below. During winter months, the area becomes a snowy wonderland, offering snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities.


5. Rock Climbing in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is a haven for rock climbers, with its rugged terrain and numerous climbing routes. Beginners and experienced climbers alike will find challenges suited to their skill levels. Popular spots include the crags around Pine Creek and Dead Indian Canyon.


6. Golfing Amidst Stunning Desert Landscapes

While not an "adventure" in the traditional sense, golfing in Palm Springs and Palm Desert is an experience in itself, thanks to the stunning desert landscapes that backdrop many of the courses. The area is home to over 100 golf courses, offering options for all skill levels, from championship courses to more forgiving public links.


7. Stargazing in the Desert Night Sky

The clear desert skies offer some of the best stargazing opportunities. The Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory hosts public stargazing events, allowing visitors to gaze at the stars, planets, and galaxies through a state-of-the-art telescope. For a more secluded experience, simply drive out into the desert wilderness, lay back, and look up.


Safety Tips for Outdoor Activities

●      Stay Hydrated: The desert climate can be deceiving. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

●      Protect Yourself from the Sun: Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, even on cloudy days.

●      Watch for Wildlife: The desert is home to many creatures. Keep a safe distance, especially from snakes, and be sure to check under your car for tortoises before driving off.

●      Stay on Designated Trails: Protect the delicate desert ecosystem by not straying from established paths.


Palm Springs and Palm Desert offer a rich tapestry of outdoor activities set against the backdrop of California's stunning desert landscape. Whether you're climbing the rugged rocks of Joshua Tree, biking through the Santa Rosa Mountains, or simply enjoying a serene hike through the Indian Canyons, the beauty and diversity of the desert are sure to captivate your adventurous spirit.



bottom of page