Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty to enjoy in Greater Palm Springs, no matter what time of year they visit this desert oasis. Natural wonders abound, whether you’re drawn to the picturesque landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, the incredible slot canyons surrounding the San Andreas Fault Line or the natural oases and waterfalls found along some of Greater Palm Springs’ more than 100 pristine hiking trails.
Active travelers can take advantage of plentiful opportunities to hike, bike or ride on horseback, but if you enjoy the outdoors at a more leisurely pace, don’t fret: guided Jeep and Hummer tours make it easy to sit back, relax and soak up the beauty of nature in Greater Palm Springs.
DAY ONE: THE OUTDOORS AWAIT
Rise and shine with an outdoor adventure that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping. With Big Wheel Tours, you’ll get a guided mountain bike tour as you join the signature “Earthquake Canyon Express” experience. Let the desert’s fresh air and warm sun set the tone for this 20-mile ride through the San Andreas Fault Zone. Not only will you explore this geological marvel, but you’ll also catch views of the Salton Sea and the smells of local grapefruit as the tour ends in the agricultural district of Greater Palm Springs.
The experience is finished off with a pit stop at Shields Date Garden, the perfect opportunity to try one of Greater Palm Springs’ world-famous date shakes.
One of the nation’s most stunning national parks is just a short drive from Greater Palm Springs, offering spectacular sights that almost seem out of this world. At Joshua Tree National Park, you can spend an afternoon hiking on nature trails, climbing giant boulders or practicing your photography skills in one of the nation’s most iconic natural locales.
If you’d rather stay close to town, channel your inner cowboy and spend an afternoon horseback riding through the desert, courtesy of Smoke Tree Stables.
After the sun sets, the action heats up at the area’s only night-lit golf course: The Lights at Indio Golf Course. However, it is not “golf” you will be playing—it’s FootGolf, a fun combination of soccer and golf. Played with a regulation soccer ball that is kicked into 21-inch cups, the matches are fast and fun and perfect for all ages. You still have to watch out for the sand traps and water hazards!
DAY TWO: THE MANY NATURAL WONDERS OF THE OASIS
Beneath the palm trees and mountains of Greater Palm Springs lies a vast natural aquifer that supports the desert’s ecosystem. At both the Coachella Valley Preserve in Thousand Palms and the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, natural palm oases showcase how plants and animals alike have naturally survived in the desert for all these years. Take your pick of either for a leisurely nature walk to kick start your morning.
While Greater Palm Springs is known for its year-round sunny and warm weather, cooler temps – and even snow in the winter months – are just minutes away. Climb aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramway, and ascend nearly 6,000 feet to the top of Mount San Jacinto, where temperatures can be up to 30 degrees cooler than on the desert floor. Hiking trails abound, and more ambitious explorers can climb to the top of Mount San Jacinto Peak (the highest point in Riverside County) or even hike to the mountain town of Idyllwild.
After a full two days of outdoor exploration, let Desert Adventures take the wheel for your final trek into the outdoors. Climb aboard one of their signature red Jeeps for the San Andreas Fault Sunset & Stargazing Jeep Tour, where you’ll explore a different side of the fault line than you saw during yesterday’s bicycle tour. Slot canyons, a palm oasis and a recreated Cahuilla Native American village give you an in-depth look at the natural history of Greater Palm Springs, and, as night falls, you’ll enjoy a guided look at the stars on Desert Adventures’ exclusive Metate Ranch preserve.
Looking for more ways to explore? Don't miss the best oasis hikes in Greater Palm Springs.