We stood on the 2,000-foot rim of Whitewater Canyon, and the power of the wind nearly blew us over. My little cousin Kaela, 8, was nearly knocked over by the gusts, some up to 25 mile per hour. Undaunted, she laughed and flapped her arms like a bird in the wind. We could barely hear the mechanical whirl of windmills towering over a hundred feet above our heads.
“You see why this is one of the windiest places on Earth?” our guide shouted to us. We all nodded in agreement. Then my family and I quickly retreated back in to the comfort of the Hummer, which felt solid and unwavering despite the wind outside.
We were on a journey with Palm Springs-based Elite Land Tours
, one of the Coachella Valley’s most professional and creative companies of its kind. My family and I had thoroughly enjoyed Elite’s Hummer tour of the San Andreas Fault last year, that we decided to join their private morning tour of the windmills of the San Gorgonio Pass.
Anyone who has driven into Palm Springs is stunned by the thousands of windmills swirling amidst the open landscape. This two-mile-wide pass is one of the windiest places on Earth, and it’s where the U.S. wind industry got its start in the 1980s. The area continues to be a leader in wind energy and innovation, and it’s home to over 4,500 windmills producing 650 megawatts of clean energy — enough to power 195,000 homes. The winds generally are strongest during the summer months, a good time to take the tour.
Far from being bored, the kids loved getting up and close and personal with the mammoth windmills, watching their giant blades (some as wide a 747’s wingspan) rotate in the sunshine. They spotted snakes, lizards, vultures, and roadrunners from the tinted windows of the six-person Hummer, and we all learned about the history of wind energy, and how the windmills are built and how they function. My nephew Brochton, 12, declared halfway through the tour, “I’d love to study these machines and someday work on them!”
Elite Land Tours
takes guests on informative 90-minute windmill excursions in a comfy Hummer, starting at just $49, for four or more guests. You can add on a 90-minute visit to the nearby San Andreas Fault – driving directly into its gorge – for another $30 per person. Or visit the fault, the windmills, and Joshua Tree National Park on a four-hour Hummer excursion starting at $129 per person, drinks and snacks included.
To learn more about the long list of excursion Elite Land Tours offers, head to Elite's web site
or call 800-514-4866.