'Tis the season for outdoor family adventures in Palm Springs. Over the next several months, our Family Fun Blog will bring you suggestions for spending time together in the natural beauty our desert has to offer, like no place else. Part 1 in our Family Adventure Series is the perfect start for young hikers-to-be.
Walk far enough through the exhibits, and there’s a gate that opens up to the vast desert landscape and three hiking trails at The Living Desert, Palm Springs’ best-known zoological park and botanical garden. Closed during the summer months for safety reasons, the trails are open from October through March 31st. Experience-appropriate options ranging from the easy Inner Loop to the advanced Wilderness Loop mean any child in tow can come along, whether they’re toddlers or tweens.
The ¼-mile-long Inner Loop is a great fit for families with young children. Meant to be a short 15-minute walk, it’s a good idea to allow an additional 15 minutes for the shorter legs and curious minds of little-hikers-in-training. Meander around this path to give them a feel for the pleasures of hiking, like the fresh air, the tranquil sounds of nature, and inquisitive conversation.
Imagining to be a mountaineer can be part of the fun, too, since the beginning of the Inner Loop is located directly opposite from the San Andreas Fault Exhibit. This open-air exhibit provides an opportunity to accompany your mini adventurer up a soft, short incline to a peak on the side of a mountain for a bird’s-eye view of the Valley floor.
On the back side of the San Andreas Fault Exhibit, real sand dunes reveal undisturbed footprints of nocturnal animals that roamed the nature preserve mere hours before. Once back inside the park, families can compare their “sightings” in the real Sonoran Desert to the carpeted “sand dune” in the Discovery Center and the animals in the exhibits.
A camera is optional since surroundings like these tempt you to capture them on film, but it’s also nice to live in the moment. Hiking trails are included in the regular price of park admission, leaving the freedom to plan a full day at the park or just a couple of hours in the morning for a leisurely stroll on the Inner Loop. For more information on the two longer trails, what to take, admission prices, and hours, visit The Living Desert.