One truth becomes apparent driving along Highway 111 towards Palm Springs and away from Los Angeles: the Coachella Valley is cloaked in mystery. The mountains are in shadow, and the valley is just barely illuminated, even in the evening. It is a stark contrast to the bright lights of greater L.A., and leaving there makes this dark sky even more captivating.
The region’s proximity to L.A., perfect weather, and gorgeous scenery attracted Hollywood royalty and acted as an oasis in the middle of the dry California desert. The scene regularly attracted the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Liz Taylor, and even Elvis Presley.
Over time, the area became less trendy and far less visited. That is until one of the most popular music festivals on the planet, Coachella, brought the youth of the current generation flocking back to the valley. The town, tucked away under the Santa Rose Mountains, had always remained beautiful. However, that beauty is now appreciated once again as the festival attracts an entire generation of scenesters every year. Even our very own Hollywood royalty seem to be taking notice of the area’s rediscovered popularity. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling are just a couple frequent visitors.
For those more interested in an outdoor adventure than a trendy music festival, the valley itself boasts a stunning and diverse landscape with enough activities to make it an ideal getaway. Here are three things to keep in mind when considering the Coachella Valley as your outdoor adventure destination.
1. Joshua Tree National Park:
If there is just one location you absolutely must see on your visit to Coachella Valley, it is Joshua Tree National Park. Even just the drive out of Palm Springs, through the Morongo Valley, past Yucca Valley, and into the park in uniquely diverse and breathtaking. Most beautiful of all are the Joshua trees themselves, jutting out of the ground like twisted works of art. The park is huge and littered in hiking trails like the Hidden Valley trail and the Keys View scenic lookout. If you really want to take in the varied terrain, check out Lost Palms Oasis, a moderate loop that is home to a grove of palm trees. If history is more your thing, head over to the old mines that harken back to the Gold Rush. To get more information on the Joshua trees themselves, it is recommended that you take one of the eco-tours at Desert Adventure. Cyclist and mountain bikers can get a unique training experience on the park’s vehicle roads, testing endurance against the heat. If you are looking for a multi-day adventure, look into one of the campgrounds tucked away in the park.
2. Palm Oasis:
Staying a little closer to Palm Springs itself, you will find the Indian Canyons Palm Oasis. This is an ideal destination for longer hikes and along it is some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. The canyon is fifteen miles long with the most impressive foliage near the trailhead. Hiking the Palm Canyon Trail to the Victor Trail is fairly easy and should only take an hour or two. Look to the surrounding countryside for a longer hike. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen for your hikes here. Try hiking in the early morning, so you can stop for a lunch picnic along the stream and maybe some yoga for good measure; this place is perfect for contemplation.
3. Aerial Tramway:
During your stay in the Coachella Valley, try to set aside time for the ten-minute ride up Mt. San Jacinto on the world’s largest rotating tram car. The ride offers breathtaking views as well as access to additional playgrounds. 54 miles into the park you will find pristine wilderness that lends itself to some wonderful hiking trails. Additionally, enjoy camping or grab a bite to eat at the Peaks Restaurant. If you decide on visiting during the winter months, use the tram to access some cross-country skiing.
Keep in mind that the valley reaches extremely high summer temperatures. You can expect the days to be a consistent 100-degrees and paired with an almost blinding sun. Any time besides the summer calls for near perfect weather conditions, especially during winter and early spring. High season is in March and April.