Clusters of palm trees tucked into the Indio Hills? This is no mirage.
The San Andreas fault slashes across the valley, and the groundwater that it pushes toward the surface makes this place ideal for thirsty Washingtonia filifera, or California fan palms—the only variety native to the state.
That’s refreshing news for anyone who wants to seek solace and shade beneath their drooping green fronds. The Coachella Valley Preserve offers plenty of chances to do just that.
At the free Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, visitors can hike more than 25 miles of trails that wind through various desert ecosystems. You can clamber over canyons, stroll through a desert wash and dunes, or—if the season and rain conditions are right—survey a seemingly endless carpet of buttery yellow blooms.
You could spend a whole afternoon at McCallum Pond, which is ringed by tall palms that may be as many as 150 years old. Find a spot on one of the benches. Allow your eyes to roam between the canopy and the hills in the distance, and you might find that you can’t tear yourself away.
Know Before You Go
While many trails are open all the time, others have set opening and closing hours. Portions of the preserve also close a various times of year, so look online or check in with the visitors' center to make sure you don't get locked in or out.