Palm Springs is one of favourite holiday destinations. A true desert oasis with great restaurants and resorts and glorious nature surrounding the city. And if you make it to the city in April, be sure to get tickets for the music festival Coachella. When I come, I normally spend a lot of time lounging by the pool, sleeping in and enjoying great food and drinks. But I always make time for the many great activities in the region. Here are some of the best Palm Springs road trips to take, when vacationing in the city.
Joshua Tree National Park
About 45 minutes from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park, which is located in a stunning desert. Actually two to be precise: the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert, with Yucca Brevifolia trees unique to the park. Mormon settlers named the characteristic trees Joshua from the biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
You can easily spend an entire day hiking and exploring the park – even be adventurous and camp in the park. You can also come for a shorter drive through the northwestern part of the park. Or take an easy hike on one of the designated trails. By the northern entrance close to Twentynine Palms you will find an observatory, where you on Saturday nights can go stargazing. The night sky over Joshua Tree is magical. You can even meet local astronomy enthusiasts, who bring their telescopes, and get a much closer look at the night sky. 6554 Park Boulevard, Joshua Tree
If you do not mind a camp experience, make a quick stop at Pioneer Town before or after driving to Joshua Tree National Park. It used to be a movie set for westerns built in the 1940s and is now basically only for tourists. Take a (short) walk down Mane Street and see some faux gunslinging. Grab a beer and burger, while hanging out with local bikers at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 5040 Curtis Road, Pioneertown
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The world’s largest rotating aerial tramway is located in Palm Springs. It takes you along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park at an altitude of about 3 km. The ride to the top takes ten minutes, you can go only for the ride and enjoy the breathtaking views. Or you can get off and take a guided nature walk or even a longer hike. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses through the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, so you are guaranteed beautiful hiking trails. 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs
About an hour southeast of Palm Springs you will find the wondrous Salton Sea. A salt water lake in the middle of the desert created accidentally in an attempt to control the nearby Colorado River. The lake was for a while a great escape for the Hollywood crowd and families coming to resorts popping up around the lake. However, the lake failed to attract the masses for a longer period, which resulted in what are now ghost towns along the lake. A combination of the drought in California causing the lake’s water level to decrease along with pollution from nearby agriculture causing the fish in the sea to die has caused one of the craziest ecological phenomenons with dried out beaches filled with stinking dead fish. It might sound crazy but it is worth the drive. The first stop could be the ghost town of Bombay Beach.