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Discover Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon_trail

Your Ultimate Exploration Guide

The Agua Caliente people, a vibrant and resourceful community, flourished in Tahquitz Canyon for millennia. They lived in perfect harmony with the area’s abundant wildlife, including rabbits, squirrels, lizards, snakes, and quail. Their sustenance was derived from honey mesquite beans, ground meticulously in stone mortars, a testament to their ingenuity and resourcefulness. This deep connection with nature is a vital part of the canyon’s rich history and culture, inviting you to step into their world.

Tahquitz Canyon, a true gem of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation in Palm Springs, is a sight to behold. It features a seasonal 60-foot waterfall, a masterpiece of nature’s artistry that cascades with breathtaking beauty. The ancient rock art, whispering tales of the past, is a fascinating window into the area’s history. This is where nature and culture intertwine, offering a truly awe-inspiring experience that will captivate you.

Tahquitz Canyon waterfall

Legend of the Tahquitz

Many people have been drawn to Tahquitz Canyon because of the captivating legend of the Tahquitz. As the story goes, Tahquitz was the first shaman created by Mukat, the creator of all things. Tahquitz, who was very powerful, initially provided for the good of all people and became the guardian spirit of all shamans. But over time, he began to use his power selfishly, harming the Agua Caliente people. This intriguing tale led to his banishment to the canyon that now bears his name. He made his home high in the San Jacinto Mountains in a secret cave below the towering rock known today as Tahquitz Rock.

The spirit of Tahquitz is said to still reside in the canyon, manifesting in various natural phenomena. He is believed to appear as a giant green fireball streaking across the night sky, a sight that has both fascinated and frightened many. The deep rumblings and ground-shaking heard within the San Jacinto Mountains are attributed to Tahquitz’s stomping about the canyon, adding to the mystique and allure of this sacred place.

Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center

The Tahquitz Visitor Center, located at the canyon entrance, is your starting point for this cultural exploration. It provides educational exhibits, a collection of artifacts, an observation deck, and a small theater room for viewing The Legend of Tahquitz video. This center serves as a gateway to the area’s rich history and culture. Free parking is available in designated areas.

Located at 500 W Mesquite Ave.

Mid Century Architectural Entrance To Tahquitz Canyon Hiking visitor center

Tahquitz Canyon Trail

From the Visitor Center, you will find the trailhead. It’s a 1.8 mile loop trail that offers a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 350 feet. It is a moderate hike, making it accessible for a range of hikers. The trail leads to the stunning Tahquitz Falls, a 60-foot waterfall that cascades into a clear, tranquil swimming hole. As you hike, you’ll encouter desert wildflowers, native wildlife, and a variety of native plants. Along the way you’ll see rock formations and what is left of an old irrigation system that reflect the history of the Tribe’s presence in the canyon.

10 Tahquitz Canyon Landmarks

Tahquitz Canyon HikingTrailMap_edited

1 – Kak wa wit (mouth of the canyon)

This is the entrance to Tahquitz Canyon, named more than 3,000 years ago by great chief Evon ga Net. Look up into the canyon from this point. The path’s site is not much different from when ancient people would have walked the canyon. Artifacts found here date back 3,000 or more years.

Kak Wa Wit Tahquitz Canyon_edited

2 – Mi as kalet (A grey top)

A large, white-tipped rock located in the middle of the month of Tahquitz Canyon and named by the leader of the Fox Tribe, who was first to settle in the canyon.


3 – Sacred Rock

One of the oldest Agua Caliente Indian dwelling sites. Rock art and bedrock mortars mark this sacred place. Some artifacts found include rock-lined storage bins, arrow points, grinding stones, beads, and bones.


4 – Cow is ic ela

The phrase Cow is ic ela refers to a large rock that sits on an even larger boulder. Agua Caliente legend tells of a young maiden who had the power to turn herself into stone that now bears her name.


5 – Ton wen neval (place of wasted mescal)

Remnants of the Lebacho-Tahquitz Creek ditch mark this area. The Agua Caliente Indians wanted to bring water from Tahquitz Canyon to the village in what is now downtown Palm Springs. It was originally built in 1830 by a man named Jose Lebacho. By 1906, the Tribe had lined the ditch with rock to prevent seepage. Eventually, when the U.S. government wanted to increase and improve the flow, the ditch was lined with mortar cobblestone, and a diversion dam was created and used between 1914 and 1926. A flash flood destroyed the ditch in 1926.


6 – U.S. Geological Survey Gaging Station

Built by USGS in 1947, this water measuring station is still in use today.


7- Tahquitz Falls

This 60-foot waterfall is a place of power. When you enter, you are tired and weak, but when you leave, you feel rejuvenated and energized.

tahquitz canyon waterfall

8 – Lookout Rock of Kak wa wit (mouth of the canyon)

This rock overlooks the village of Sec he (sound of boiling water) and the site of the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring downtown.

Tahquitz canyon lookout rock

9 – Coc wo wit (piled boulders)

An ancient rock shelter where artifacts dating back thousands of years have been found.


10 – Echo Cliff

A large cliff area to the left of the mouth of Tahquitz Canyon estimated to be 92 million years old. They were created by an uplift caused by the different fault lines. You will see minerals that are pushed out horizontally rather than vertically.

Tahquitz Canyon

Ranger Led Interpretive Hikes

A 2.5-hour ranger-led interpretive hike is included with your paid admission and departs from the Visitor Center. Tours are subject to change.

October – June: 8 am, 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm.

July – September: 8 am only

Tahquitz Canyon Ranger

Purchase Tickets

Purchase your day-hike tickets at Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center, 500 W Mesquite Ave Palm Springs. Military is free with a U.S. military ID.

You may also purchase tickets or annual passes at the Palm Springs Visitor Center, 2901 N. Palm Canyon. It is on the corner of Tram Road that leads to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.


Oct. 1 – July 4:  Open Daily, 7:30 am – 5 pm  Last hiker in at 3:30 pm.

July 5 – Sept. 30: Friday – Sunday only, 7:30 am – 5 pm.


To protect yourself, hikers must carry water, wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes, and dress appropriately for the weather conditions for sun protection.

Must be 18+ to enter canyons alone. All guests 17 and under must be with an adult.

No animals allowed.

Hike on designated trails only.

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