Home » 2018 Mojave Road & Indian Wells

Indian Wells (Palm Springs), CA

Saturday, October 20, 2018 - 9:15pm by Lolo
134 miles and 2.5 hours from our last stop - 3 night stay


This ain't Mojave anymoreThis ain't Mojave anymoreVisiting old friends who had just bought a house in Indian Wells was the impetus for this whole trip. Herb just had to sneak in a little desert off-roading first. This trip was to be a journey between two extremes - the primitiveness of the desert and the luxuriousness of a home in Indian Wells. Good thing we did it in this order.

Elke and Dennis’ new home was beautiful and it was great just to sit and chat after 11 years of not seeing each other. Funny thing about old friends in that it is so easy to just pick up where you left off.

Day 1 - failed attempt at Joshua Tree National Park and Hike in Tahquitz Canyon

Hike to Tahquitz CanyonHike to Tahquitz CanyonOn our first full day together, we decided to take them off-roading in Joshua Tree National Park, which was only about 40 minutes away. Our plan was to enter via the southern entrance, drive up Cottonwood Road, do the off-road, 12-mile Geology Tour, hike 3 miles up Ryan Mountain in the Park, and then come home. A pretty ambitious plan, that was not meant to be

A heavy rain the week before had washed out the Cottonwood Road and the southern entrance to the park was closed. It wasn’t a dirt road that had been washed out, but the main asphalt one into the park.

Tahquitz CanyonTahquitz CanyonUndaunted, we changed plans. We drove back to Palm Springs to do the Tahquitz Canyon hike, which was listed in our hiking book as a 1 in difficulty, but 10 in scenery.

Tahquitz Canyon is part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. During the 1960s and 1970s it became a popular place for partiers and homeless people to congregate until the Aqual Caliente Band decided to close it to public use in the late 1970s and clean it up. It just reopened in 1999 and they now charge a pretty hefty fee of $12.50 to hike the 2 mile trail.

We managed to navigate our way through the Visitor Center Gift Shop without spending any more money and set out on the trail.

Nothing like old friends (Tahquitz Canyon)Nothing like old friends (Tahquitz Canyon)The nicely maintained trail climbed up the canyon. At about ¾ of a mile, we climbed a series of rock steps cut into the canyon side, eventually bringing us to where in the springtime, a 50-foot waterfall cascades down into a deep pool great for taking a dip in during the summer heat. However, at this time of year it is dry, so we had to use our imagination. Unfortunately the $12.50 fee was not imaginary.

The walk back was quite pretty as we were not looking out over the canyon with the city in the background. All in all, the hike was 2 miles with a 350 elevation gain.

That evening we had a nice casual dinner at Giuseppe’s Pizza in Palm Springs. Although I am not a big fan of the desert heat, it was awfully nice to be able to sit out on the patio at night and be warm. Nights get pretty chilly in Santa Rosa.

Day 2 - Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and hiking the Desert View Trail

Palm Springs Tramway to San Jacinto summitPalm Springs Tramway to San Jacinto summitWe had tried getting tickets yesterday for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, but being a Sunday, they were totally book. However, we did manage to get 4 tickets ($25 each) for 10:00 am today, which would put us on the first tram up the mountain in the morning.

The Tramway scooted us 2 ½ miles up Chino Canyon, from the desert floor at 2,643 feet to the top of Mt. San Jacinto State Park, at 8,516 feet in just 10 minutes. During the ride, the car rotated, giving passengers a panoramic view of the canyon and the valley floor below.

View from Desert View TrailView from Desert View TrailIn the Mountain Station on top, there are two restaurants, observation decks, a museum, two theaters, a gift shop, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. We avoided the touristy stuff and immediately set off for the Forest Ranger Station just down the path from the station.

The most popular trail is the short, but highly scenic Desert View Trail, but before doing that we decided to take a less traveled 4 mile loop through a lovely forest. Although it was short and relatively flat, we definitely felt the elevation change.

Desert View TrailDesert View TrailAs advertised the 2-mile long Desert View Trail had better views. There are five notches along the way where you get different views of the valley below. By far the best view was at Notch 3.

After descending back to the desert on the tramway, on our drive back to Palm Springs, Elke gave us a bit of a celebrity tour, showing us where many movie stars lived when Palm Springs was the playground for the rich and famous starting back in the 1920s.

Part of the reason it became so popular was the legendary “Two-Hour Rule” of Hollywood studios put Palm Springs on the map as a perfect getaway. Actors under contract had to be available within two hours from the studio just in case last-minute film/photo shoots had to occur.

Evening In Indian WellsEvening In Indian WellsSome of the celebrities that purchased homes were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., George Hamilton, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, Jack Benny. Several ladies were frequent visitors included Marilyn Monroe, Dinah Shore, Kitty Carlisle, Lily Tomlin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Susan Sommers. There must have been some interesting parties!

That evening (our final), we had dinner at a nice Italian Restaurant in Palm Springs called Le Donne Cucina Italiana, once again enjoying dining on their outside patio.

It had been a great trip, with so much variety!!

Indian Wells (Palm Springs) location map in "high definition"

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