It was late January 2016 and after spending three weeks on Oregon’s coast where it rained almost every day, we were ready to dry out in the sunshine and where better to be than a Palm Springs RV park.
We brought the rain with us right to the desert.
An early departure from our overnight stop in Arroyo Grande assured an early bypass of the Los Angeles traffic. A storm was passing through the Los Angeles area and the traffic piled up in Riverside County at around 11am. This is the notorious Sunday brunch time and many were on the road already with the rain making this worse.
[Photo at right]
Early morning departure in heavy rain put us ahead of the coastal traffic towards Los Angeles on our way from Arroyo Grande to Palm Springs.
The rain stayed with us all the way to the desert and we broke into sunshine just as we got to Palm Springs, but as we set up camp the rain caught up with us and it starting to rain again. The rain passed with just a few drops, the desert theory was working, but then after some more sunshine the sky turned dusty with a light sandstorm that lasted overnight.
Thankfully the sky turned blue again and the Palm Springs RV park presented us with an 85F degree day for a well deserved drying out period.
When the air is clear and the temperature is warm, Palm Springs is beautiful. It’s like this through most of winter with very few exceptions. I enjoyed seeing a rare rain event in the desert.
RV park location and activities
The Palm Springs RV Resort is located about 15 minutes drive from Palm Canyon Drive, the center of attraction of Palm Springs. There are some tricks to finding just the right spot for your RV here in the RV park. We were given a site at the western edge of the park and told this the pick of the spaces due to a large row of oaks reducing any high winds. What we did not know was that this site also was close to the main highway, the Interstate 10, where trucks continually pass 24 hours every day of the week. It was way too noisy for our three week stay. The management offered us other sites, but we just wanted to avoid moving for a while. It’s best to be further towards the north of the park where all the other RVs will shield the freeway noise.
The Palm Springs RV Resort has hardtop roadways but with the drought and water restrictions, each site is very sandy and dusty. Sand and dust is part of Palm Springs living, so we adapted to it, but we did have some minor coughs and sneezes.
The RV park is the most active park we have seen. The culture of the park in the winter is dominated by snowbirds. Snowbirds are people who travel anywhere to avoid the cold. Here the snowbirds congregate at every sporting activity. Horseshoe throwing at 8am, water aerobics at 10am, pool volleyball at 1pm, Pickleball all day, and pool and games in the games rooms at night. If you like to be with the group, this place is for you. We didn’t mind keeping to ourselves and strolling our westie, Sparky, around the park. Our favorite time to hit the pool and hot tub was around 9pm when there is a small group relaxing in the twilight.
The park handles the big rigs very well and we saw several oversized rigs. Almost all sites are pull-throughs. Each site is quite narrow, but there is plenty of room to relax. The date palm trees set the Palm Springs ambience, although these are not native palms from this region. The native palms are well preserved in the nearby nature parks.
Things to do around the RV park
The park is actually located in a town called Palm Desert. This is a developing area consisting of some small industry, a large luxury golf resort condominium estate, and a convenient shopping center including a supermarket and all the other essentials.
We have bicycles and are able to ride to all ammenities on flat ground in minutes. The Del Taco nearby is within 10 minutes walk and has special cheap Tuesdays and Thursdays to watch for.
The La Quinta Brewing Company has a taproom open every evening. The taproom is located in the light industry area, but has a congenial and casual atmosphere, and you can taste the range of brews just a 15 minute walk from the RV park. Try the Koffi Porter brew. It has a deep and balanced flavor and won international awards in 2016. La Quinta Brewing Company website.
Natural desert park within 10 minutes drive
Coachella Valley Preserve is high on our list of things to do. There is a short desert walk that follows the San Andreas Fault where crystal clear water rises to the surface directly from this famous fault line. You walk through a cooling palm oasis after visiting the historical visitors’ center. From here you have the choice to take on longer open desert hikes, or just visit other palm oasis and enjoy the cool natural shade from the towering Washingtonian palms. Even closer to this park from the RV park is the Willis Park trailhead which is a little more open with some steady climbs, but the view, the ground water springs, and the desert palm groves are great to experience.
Washingtonia filifera palms only grow in moist ground. Accumulated here because of the water channeling from the fault line. The dead fronds host nests for birds, snakes and other small animals.
The San Andreas fault cuts directly through the Coachella Valley Preserve and is the reason for the accumulation of palms, cooling ponds of fresh water and a broad biodiversity of plants and animals. The fault provides a steady course of water from underground where the two plates grind together pressurizing the water to the surface.
Agua Caliente Indian Reservation – Andreas Canyon Trailhead
Location: Drive south towards the intersection of South Canyon Drive and Acanto Drive until you reach the entrance of the Agua Caliente Reservation.
Recommended: Always wear sunscreen and take water with you. We found it best to venture our by 8am so that you return before the hottest part of the day. Proceed only during operating hours.
This is a great walk following a running creek as it winds its way deep into the Andreas Canyon. This hike is located within the Agua Caliente reservation so you do need to purchase a permit at the entrance.
It was February and almost desert flower season. Many plants were springing to life in the warmer temperatures.
At the trailhead, you can relax in the shade under the palm tree grove where there are picnic tables and restrooms.
Simonetta Kennett lookout hike on the South Lykken Trail in Palm Springs
Location: South Palm Canyon Drive – 200 yards south of where South Palm Canyon Drive intersects with Murray Canyon Drive.
Tips: Free to access. Fairly steep and rocky, but considered moderate. Definitely an early morning hike. The sun beats hard on the side of the hills. Take plenty of water and a picnic lunch for the view.
The view is captivating with contrasts of clear blue skies, green golf courses, and rocky desert. The walk can be challenging in hot conditions due to the hills shielding the breeze and capturing the sunshine. Leave and return early for this walk.
The view south at Simonetta Kennett. The view to the east over the city is worth taking some time out to enjoy the cooler breezes after the steep climb. There’s a picnic table with 270 degree views across the mountains, desert plains, and city scape.
The South Lykken Trail leads to more extensive trails know as the South Lykken Trail II, South Lykken Trail III, and South Lykken Trail IV. Each can be accessed from the Desert Park Riders I trail which is accessed from near the Palm Springs town center.
We were happy to do the South Lykken Trail to the Simonetta Kennett which was around a two hour round trip including a stop at the lookout.
So much more to see and do in Palm Springs
You might love golf and Palm Springs is your golfers’ paradise, but there is so much to do in this city. Before I came to visit, if someone mentioned Palm Springs, I thought of desert with nothing more than golf courses and luxury low-rise hotels. I never considered that there is so much history here.
A quick stroll down Palm Springs’ central boulevard, North Palm Canyon Drive is like a walk back in time with a resort city feel and the crisp desert air and warm clear desert nights offers the greatest ambience for a weekend escape or midweek vacation.
The Las Casuelas Restaurant in the center of North Palm Canyon Drive takes you back to a 1920s style of Palm Springs. Some of the city’s earliest hotels are still standing and preserved to remind us of a time when this was once just a stopping post between long desert stagecoach journeys.
The Plaza Theatre was first opened in 1936 and was frequented by the stars in opening night glamor.
Wikipedia writes: ‘The Plaza Theatre became a venue for a number of world premieres, including the musicals My Fair Lady and Music Man. The Plaza was a popular theater during the 1940s for famous stars to do their broadcasting. Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Amos ‘n’ Andy all did radio shows from the Plaza, bringing national attention to Palm Springs.’
At the time of writing, this monument is closed and waiting for new investment to open its doors to entertain the many visitors and locals of Palm Springs.
A casual stroll up and down North Palm Canyon Drive is entertaining and relaxing on warm desert evenings. Some shops spray cool water from their awnings and you can cool off in the fine misty spray.
This mural and lighted ceiling at the Hyatt Palm Springs captures mid-century modern architecture which you can find when you drive through many of Palm Springs’ historic streets. You can locate homes of the famous including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Dean Martin.
If the desert heat is too severe – you are only minutes from the snow!
You can ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of San Jacinto Mountain, 10,380 feet where the air is usually 30 degrees less than in Palm Springs. Snow accumulates here and if you want to cool off for a few hours or stay for dinner at the summit restaurant, take the tram and enjoy the view of Coachella Valley. Remember to bring a sweater.
Tramway website: https://www.pstramway.com/
Palm Springs and the adjoining towns of Cathedral City, Desert Palms, La Quinta and others are bustling with tourists, golfers, and outdoor activists but you will find it’s never too busy. You can roam the streets and admire the architecture, the culture, the scenery, and the desert climate. Visit for an evening, a few days, or even weeks to enjoy everything this region has to offer.
Categories: Places We Love