PLAYGROUND / The Desert
Welcome to the Coachella Valley!
It's springtime in this crown jewel of California deserts, where Angelinos and Snowbirds flock this time of year to enjoy the warmth of the desert sun.
Driving south from L.A., you'll traverse the San Gorgonio Pass. This is the gateway to our desert destination. Its natural passageway was formed by the San Andreas Fault, where tectonic plates merge from Mexico's Gulf, running up the western spine of California's Sierras, past San Francisco and into the Pacific near Pt. Reyes.
The majestic San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains flank opposite sides of the pass and mark a transition zone between LA's Mediterranean climate to the northwest and this Desert climate to the southeast.
Did you notice the Wind Farms as you dropped into the desert? Given our topography, this is one of the windiest passes in the United States.
Be sure to take the first exit off Interstate 10. Here is the north end of famous Highway 111, which winds south along the westerly side of our valley, stringing together the iconic towns of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta and Indio.
Agua Caliente was the original name of what is now Palm Springs. The name derived from the artesian wells and natural hot springs that form where the desert floor nestles up against the San Jacinto Mountain range
You will notice a refreshing mid-century style of architecture in Palm Springs, catering to an indoor/outdoor lifestyle and views. "P.S." became the winter playground for Hollywood stars back in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Lucy and Desi Arnaz, amongst many made this desert town famous.
Walt Disney was drawn to Smoke Tree Ranch, the original address for natural old school desert living, and made it his second home.
You have arrived. Take a deep breath, relax and settle in. We have an exciting schedule of activities ahead to make the most of your experience in our desert oasis. So, get ready to explore, play and find leisure in our desert home while taking in our slower pace of life during your visit. The lizards will demonstrate desert "chill".
We are so happy you are with us!
Known as the low desert, our home here is nestled between the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and the Chocolate mountains.
Early Risers! Get up at the crack of dawn. You don’t want to miss early mornings here. Winter storms are far to the north. This is your magic day!
Sunrise is at 6:15am. The crisp light air is another reminder that you are in the low desert. It's a refreshing wake-up call to help you start your day.
How about a small hike up the Art Smith Trail while watching sunrise cast its light and shadows over the Chocolate Hills to the east and the Santa Rosa mountains above?
The wildflowers are blooming underneath the agave and smoke trees running along your gravel trails. Tiny shells are scattered about reminding us this valley was below sea level many years ago and part of a larger Salton Sea basin to the south. The name "Coachella" is from the Spanish word Concha, or shell.
The scent of citrus is in the air. Breakfast is poolside at 8:00am. Be sure to grab a ruby red grapefruit off the tree on your hike back.
We have a full day ahead of fun activities and sporting events in store. Our average temperature this time of year is 75 degrees. Humidity is low.
Your tee time is at 9:00am at the Mountain Course. The morning dew has the greens playing perfectly. The fairway is open but keep an eye out for the Canada geese flocking around the ponds. The sounds of California Quail and scurrying Roadrunners may distract your tee shots, but remember we are guests in their native desert playground.
There are over 150 golf courses to choose from between Palm Springs and Indio. Each captures its own identity by way of varied natural surroundings: landscapes, hardscapes, water, mountains, and valley terrain.
We are one of the hottest and driest places in the world. On your hikes, bring water and keep an eye out for the bighorn sheep. You’ll find them at the cliffs near the Whitewater Preserve or herding around the rocky terrains and down by streams.
Other critters to look for while out in nature are the endangered Fringe-toed lizards, which can be found around the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.
Return to the Art Smith Trail for "Monument Night Adventure". These are nighttime scheduled walks offering glimpses of nocturnal creatures including Kangaroo rats. They are native to our region and are most active at night.
Or, how about our Burrowing owls, which are best seen from December to April near the Salton Sea?
For those not so adventurous, you can experience all of our fauna and flora at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. This unique park focuses on our local surroundings and the deserts of the world.
We are in a region of the Colorado Desert, a part of the larger Sonoran Desert which stretches south across the border into Mexico.
After the Gold Rush in northern California, forty-niner William D. Bradshaw heard there was gold in our hills to the east. He and eight men set out to find a direct route from the top of the valley to La Paz, Arizona to tap into the best mines in the region.
Cabazon, chief of the Cahuilla Indian tribe of the Salton Sink teamed up with the Maricopa tribe from Salt River in Pima, AZ to assist Bradshaw in this effort. The route, known as the old Bradshaw Trail, runs down the valley and was the old stagecoach route from San Bernardino to La Paz, Arizona in 1862. The fifth stop along the way gave the town of "La Quinta" its name.
Over time, tributaries from the Colorado River Delta "Fan" flowed into the Salton Trough and Imperial Valley, while depositing rich soils creating fertile farmlands.
The Imperial Valley, further south, is considered California’s breadbasket and is known for its citrus, lettuce, and vegetable crops. The region was named by the Imperial Land Company, in hopes of attracting settlers.
Can you hear the faint whistle of the Southern Pacific Railroad in the distance? Its tracks were laid in our valley back in 1872. A station at Indio serves as the halfway point between Los Angeles and Yuma, AZ.
The region’s ability to grow tropical fruits, frost-free, and the S.P. Railroad helped make our valley an international destination. Traders, adventurers, farmers and cowboys soon followed.
Given its close proximity to the Mexican border, the culture here is uniquely blended: local citizens and neighboring farmers are from the US and Mexico. Our restaurants are multi-cultural and reflect an array of authentic culinary cuisines.
Bordered by sand dunes and barren mountains, this region is also a playground escape for motocross riders and dune buggy enthusiasts. At a slower pace, horseback riding is popular, too.
Over the years, alluvial sediments have built up along the edges of the Santa Rosa Mountains and have lifted our desert floor two hundred feet above sea level.
As you gaze across the valley, the Chocolate Hills divide two distinct desert ecosystems where the Mojave and Colorado come together in Joshua Tree National Park. If you haven’t been, now is the time. This is a must visit - add it to your itinerary for the week!
The National Date Festival is going on down in Indio. This region is known for growing the best dates in the country and account for 95% of the nation’s output. Be sure to order up their famous date shake. You won't be disappointed.
In March, don’t miss the matches at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The best men and women players in the world are here for good reason. Just as you do, they love the desert's beauty and warmth after winter in many parts of the world.
The folks at Mission Hills will be hosting a croquet event on the grassy pitch. Ask for Brian Lozano. He is the local croquet pro who will get you dialed in. If you are nostalgic, wear your classic whites. This sport originated at the Wimbledon Tennis and Lawn Club. Khaki and white are a perfect combination, too. Always wear a hat. The desert sun may be low in spring, but it can pack some considerable UV punch!