7 Things To Do And Learn On Your Palm Springs Vacation
By Rose Lenk
1 Hike the canyons of Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a hiker's paradise, which is evident by the many hiking trails mapped out in and around its numerous scenic canyons and gorges. Here the diversity of wildlife is as contrasting as the breathtaking landscape. From catching a glimpse of the rare and endangered Bighorn Sheep to watching the clever antics of the smallest desert creatures, the canyons of Palm Springs are a must see for any visitor to the area.
Tahquitz Canyon is situated on the Agua Caliente Reservation and is one of the most beautiful desert attractions to be found in Palm Springs. Boasting of a spectacular 60-foot waterfall, rock art, ancient irrigation systems, abundant native wildlife and plants, a hike through this unique and diverse canyon will not be forgotten any time soon.
Palm Canyon features fifteen miles of mapped trails that gives hikers an intimate glimpse of the area's indigenous flora and fauna situated against a contrasting, rugged landscape of rocky red and gold gorges and the barren desert lands in the distance. Here you can hike, explore, picnic and horseback ride against the breathtaking canyon backdrop.
2 Tour the oases of Palm Springs
A beautiful contrast to the barren desert landscape are the many lush oases of Palm Springs. Consisting mainly of tall Fan Palms, the oases offer more than just respite from the extreme desert temperatures, which descend upon the area daily.
The oases of Palm Springs are intricate ecosystems boasting of numerous different kinds of plant and animal life including snakes, rodents, lizards and spiders.
Thousand Palms Oasis is situated on the Coachella Valley Preserve and straddles the San Andreas Fault line. Consisting of emerald green undergrowth, soaring Fan Palms and the endangered Valley Fringe-toed Lizard, the Thousand Palms Oasis is the perfect place to start your tour of the Oases of Palm Springs.
The Oasis of Mara, formerly known as Twentynine Palms Oasis, is located in the Joshua Tree National Park. Once revered as an "Oasis of Fertility by the natives, this oasis is indeed a fertile ground for many types of flora, fauna and wildlife.
3 Entertain your whole family in Palm Springs
What once has been known as a Mecca for the retired, the rich and golf enthusiasts, Palm Springs is beginning to show its inner child. From museums and amusement parks to miniature golf and arcades, there is no end to the family-friendly attractions to be found in Palm Springs.
Located on East Palm Canyon, Camelot Park boasts of activities and entertainment to keep the whole family occupied for hours. At the center of this whimsical attraction is a fantastical castle surrounded by video games, miniature golf, go-carts, bumper boats and much, much more.
The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park is located on Portola Avenue, and is full of amazing wildlife and creatures that will be sure to amuse the adults and children alike.
Featuring species such as coyotes, the endangered bighorn sheep, cheetahs and meerkats, the Living Desert is a must-see attraction in the Palm Springs area. The park also boats of a discovery center where children can watch demonstrations and have hands-on interactions with small creatures such as snakes, turtles and tarantulas.
4 Tour Palm Springs by bike
There is no better way to get up close and personal with an exotic destination like Palm Springs than by leisurely strolling through the many lush oases and barren landscapes typical of this desert paradise. But hoofing it through the miles and miles of desert attractions in and around Palm Springs can take a great deal of time and energy. That is why it has become very popular to tour Palm Springs by bike, and there are several mapped bike tours and guides dedicated to this popular activity.
One of the most popular bike tour agencies in Palm Springs is Big Wheel Bike Tours. They offer several different courses which range in difficulty from beginner to Advanced and can vary in length from a couple of hours to a full day. Many of the courses meander through breathtaking landscapes and popular tourist attractions.
5 Palm Springs Casinos
Boasting a handful of casinos all featuring low and high-stakes gambling, fine dining and other luxurious attractions, Palm Springs is prepared to take care of all of your gambling wants and needs. In fact, the only hindrance that you may find when it comes to Palm Springs casinos is deciding exactly in which casino you want to place your bets.
No matter what your gaming preference or budget, there is a gaming facility in Palm Springs to meet your every need. From high-stakes Poker and slot machines to Bingo and Blackjack among others, you will find plenty to keep your gambling hand occupied during your stay in Palm Springs. Some of the many casinos in the area include the Palm Springs Spa Resort Casino, the Agua Caliente Casino, the Fantasy Springs Casino and the Trump 29 Spotlight Casino.
6 The Native Americans of Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a desert paradise with sparkling waters, tree-lined canyons and bubbling hot springs. This rich, desert oasis has been the site of civilization for thousands of years beginning with the native inhabitants of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. For centuries, this band of Native Americans lived off of the bounty to be had in this unique desert, ecosystem.
The region was ideal for habitation, and the Agua Caliente took advantage of the resources in the area and survived by living off of the land. They used multitudes of desert plants for food, clothes, medicine and hunted game such as deer, bighorn sheep, rabbits and other small animals. They also used an elaborate irrigation system to aid in the production of crops that were brought by the Spanish including corn, squash, beans and melons.
Sadly, in 1862 a small pox epidemic brought about by the influx of whites into the area almost completely wiped out the Agua Caliente altogether. In 1925, only 50 Agua Caliente remained. Today, there are 240. They still hold the majority of the land in the Palm Springs area and run successful casinos and other tourist attractions in the area.
7 How Palm Springs was named
The first non-Native American to settle in the Palm Springs area was Judge John Guthrie McCallum. Arriving in Palm Springs in 1884 from San Francisco with family in tow, McCallum worked alongside the Native Americans to build a 19 mile stone-lined ditch from the Whitewater River Springs to irrigate the dryer parts of the area.
Continuing throughout the 19th century, numerous explorers, colonizers and soldiers came through the desert and remarked on the lush oasis to be found in the Coachella Valley, but no formal name had been given to the site. Often referred to as Palm Springs, Agua Caliente or Palm Valley, it wasn't until 1890 when Harry McCallum wrote his address as Palm Springs that the region came to be known under those terms.
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