Between spa treatments and rounds of golf, don’t forget to leave room to discover the rich adventure lying just beyond city limits.
Agua Caliente Indian Canyons
Indian Canyons, just west of Palm Desert, isn’t only known for its beautiful scenery. As the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the site also holds cultural significance that dates back some 5,000 years. Keep an eye out for historical artifacts like stone art and house pits as you traverse this wonderland of desert rock. A network of trails winds through the massive canyons, offering both leisurely walks and more demanding treks. Take a guided hike to the base of a 60-foot waterfall in Tahquitz Canyon, or attempt the Hahn Buena Vista Trail, a 12.3-mile loop through the desert that culminates at a peak with stunning views of neighboring mountains and desert cities.
San Jacinto Mountains
San Jacinto Peak, towering 10,834 feet above the desert floor, is the second-highest point in Southern California. If you’re not interested in climbing up the mountain for miles, hitch a ride aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. On this scenic cable-car ride, you’ll soar over pine and palm, enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the changing landscape as you ascend for 2½ miles along the mountainside.
After the tram drops you at Mountain Station, perched at a breathtaking 8,516 feet, you can grab a bite to eat at your choice of two restaurants, take in expansive vistas from a wraparound observation deck, or set off through 50 miles of hiking trails that span the Mount San Jacinto wilderness.
San Andreas Fault
Learn about California’s unique geology by visiting the famous (and infamous) San Andreas Fault. Thirty million years ago, the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collided, creating this grand topographic phenomenon. Although the fault line runs almost the entire length of the Golden State, the Coachella Valley is one of the best places to venture through its maze of canyons, cliffs and ridges.
One of the most memorable ways to explore is by taking an off-road Jeep tour. Roam through a true desert oasis, ride along jagged slabs of rock, and stop periodically to squeeze through narrow crevices or scramble over boulders. As your tour comes to a close, watching the sun sink into sand creates the perfect end to this otherworldly experience.
Where to Stay:
Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas