Indian Canyons#8 in Best Things To Do in Palm Springs
Located 6 miles south of central Palm Springs, these canyons, which consist of Palm Canyon, Murray Canyon and Andreas Canyon, sit on the reservation lands of the Agua Caliente, a local Native American tribe. All three canyons offer hiking trails with breathtaking desert scenery, but other activities are also available. At Palm Canyon, you can go horseback riding or purchase authentic Native American artwork or pottery. Andreas and Murray canyons, meanwhile, are best for animal-spotting; if you're lucky, you may even see endangered species like the Peninsular desert bighorn sheep and the Least Bell's Vireo bird while exploring Murray Canyon. The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, Tahquitz Canyon and three resorts – Indian Canyons Golf Resort, the Spa Resort Casino and Aqua Caliente Casino Resort Spa – are also situated on or near the reservation.
According to recent travelers, the Indian Canyons are "peaceful" and "stunningly beautiful." Some, however, cautioned that temps often soar above 100 degrees, so bring lots of water and sunscreen. Many also recommend wearing comfortable closed-toe shoes and skipping the Murray Canyon Trail if you don't want to get your feet wet.
The Indian Canyons are open every day from October 1 through July 4, but visitors are only permitted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday from July 5 to September 30. On all opening days, visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last vehicles admitted at 4 p.m. Entrance fees – which cover on-site parking, trail access and ranger talks hosted Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – are $9 for adults; $7 for seniors and students; and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. All active military members receive complimentary admission. To join a one-and-a-half-hour guided hike (offered every Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.), you'll be charged an additional $6. Learn more on the property's website.
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#1 Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve may seem like a barren desert, but keep your eyes peeled and you'll see that its 20,000-plus acres are more than just sand and brush. The preserve encompasses the smaller Thousand Palms Oasis preserve, which boasts more than 25 miles of hiking paths. Along the trails you'll spot rare wildlife, lush palm woodland oases and desert wetlands, which at different times of the year blossom with wildflowers.
Before heading out, past visitors recommend stopping by the visitor center – located in a log cabin at the entrance of the park – to pick up a map of the trails. You can also download it here. Additionally, some suggested arriving early before temperatures become unbearable and the small parking lot fills up. And if you visit between October and March, consider joining one of the preserve's free guided hikes.
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