Quick Guide to the Canyons of Palm Springs
By Kevin Perry
When you enter Palm Springs, a rush of acceptance and possibilities flood your soul. That’s because the welcome mat was rolled out for you centuries ago. The Cahuilla Indians inhabited the canyons surrounding our hometown for over 5,000 years, infusing the land with innovation and warmth. In fact, the indigenous peoples referred to the region as Sec-he, or “boiling water.”
The name stuck, inspiring Spanish settlers to translate the phase as Agua Caliente. The local tribe lived in harmony with every crag and outcropping of their canyon cradles, lining them with irrigation canals and artistic expressions that you can still see to this day.
What’s referred to as Indian Canyons is comprised of three Canyons: Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon and Palm Canyon. You enter all through through the entrance at 38520 S Palm Canyon Drive. As you enter, the first road to your right will take you to Andreas and Murray Canyon. If you stay on the main road it will lead you to Palm Canyon.
The perfect day hike awaits just southwest of downtown. Start by conquering the Andreas Trail, which meanders 1.2 miles through a lush creek bed. Commune with over 150 species of plants, rock out with otherworldly geological formations, and explore galore. This was the home of the Agua Caliente Indians during the summer to help escape the heat of the desert.
Continue south from the Andreas ridges to discover the transcendence of the Murray Canyon Loop Trail. This truly is a throwback to a lost era, creating a home for two different endangered species! Coffman Trail burrows deep into the desert floor, where tourists have reported seeing the rare and elusive Least Bell’s Vireo bird. Then soar to the heights of Murray Canyon Trail, where Peninsular Bighorn Sheep will get a foothold on your heart.
The Murray Trail culminates in a crescendo of refreshment at the Seven Sisters Waterfall. Go with the flow, replenish your strength, and get ready for your next day of canyon-sized adventure…
Palm Canyon features the world’s largest naturally occurring desert palm oasis, which flanks your excursion as you navigate this 15-mile portal into nirvana. The flora contrasts brilliantly with the foreboding desert below, creating Insta-worthy views all around. Babble by the stream, giddy up with a horseback day trip, or shop for souvenirs at the Trading Post. Local hikers have dubbed one of the most breathtaking spots in Palm Canyon “Lost Paradise” – find yourself in the splendor of its beauty.
No matter where the canyons lead you, Palm Springs has vast depths of natural wonder and vibrant culture. Lace up your boots, pack a bag, and elevate your perspective.
Speaking of waterfalls, no canyon tour would be complete without the 60-foot spectacle in Tahquitz Canyon. The deluge is seasonal, so schedule your visit accordingly, but Tahquitz is stunning year-round. Named for a mythical Cahuilla Shaman, the canyon is protected by his spirit to this day. Perhaps that’s why so many centuries old artifacts and paintings are still visible on the hallowed walls of Tahquitz. This picturesque canyon is conveniently nestled south of downtown at the visitor center is located at 500 W Mesquite Avenue, just at the base of the San Jacinto mountains.
As you navigate south into the city, a quaint pocket of Little Tuscany known as Chino Canyon greets you with unparalleled desert majesty. The rugged terrain is teeming with opportunities to explore further, inviting you to such attractions as the Aerial Tramway and the North Lykken Trailhead.
Chino Canyon is a gorgeous gateway to Mount San Jacinto State Park. The tenacious landscape features one of the steepest drops in North America, sloping from 8,500 feet to lower than 2,700 in less than a mile’s span. Chino provides a prime vantage point to gaze at the other nearby canyons and rest up for tomorrow’s outing…