Outdoor Activities in Palm Springs


As one of the premium resort cities in the United States, Palm Springs is a great place to go to get away from your daily routine and relax by the pool in the warm weather. Only two hours by car from Los Angeles in one direction and two hours from San Diego in the other, it’s completely accessible and makes for an ideal quick getaway.

Whether you’re looking to stay in one of the opulent hotels or you’re searching for luxurious Palm Springs villa rentals, you can be sure that with a modern downtown area full of trendy bars and restaurants, boutique shops and sleek hotels, and with lots of hip events going on throughout the year, there’ll be more than enough to keep you occupied.

With 360 days of sunshine a year, Palm Springs also serves as the perfect place to use as a base from which to go out and enjoy the great outdoors. Its location in the Colorado Desert means that it is near to lots of areas of outstanding natural beauty, and places where you, your friends and your family can go out into the wilderness and explore truly unspoilt landscapes.

Before you go, it’s a good idea to look into some of the options that are available and get an idea of some of the outdoor activities that may appeal to you and the people you’re travelling with. That way, you can be sure that you’ll make the best use of your precious vacation time together, and share experiences that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives.

Below are some of the best outdoor activities available in Palm Springs, suitable for explorers, adventurers and adrenaline-fuelled thrill seekers alike!

Joshua Tree National Park

One of the most popular national parks in the region, Joshua Tree National Park is about 45 minutes away from Palm Springs by car. Situated at the crossroads of the Mojave and the Colorado deserts, the rich biodiversity that the park exhibits is due to the coming together of these two distinct desert ecosystems.

Along with a huge variety of plants and animals to be discovered and observed in their natural habitats, the park showcases some surreal rock formations that look like they’ve come from the surface of another planet. And of course, the park’s signature Joshua trees are as abundant as they are iconic.

With 794,000 acres of land to be explored either by hiking, cycling or horseback riding, there’s a huge range of opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure. For those of you who enjoy more intense outdoor experiences, the park’s many geological formations and varied landscapes allow for rock climbing – but the less adventurous can always take a leisurely drive and observe the unusual landscape from the comfort of their cars!

Desert Tours

Palm Springs is home to many businesses offering tours out to the surrounding desert in open top 4×4 vehicles. With expert tour guides who have years of experience and know everything there is to know about the desert, its environment and its wildlife, the tours are a great opportunity to learn more about this unique part of the world and gain access to little known facts and information that even most locals are unaware of.

Tour locations vary, but most companies run tours to most of the surrounding national parks, and also to the San Andreas Fault. Fault tours are an extremely popular choice, with visitors getting a rare opportunity to look into the San Andreas Fault itself, and stand side by side with this iconic piece of America’s past, present and future.

Hot Air Balloons

Many tourist companies in the city also specialise in offering hot air balloon desert tours, allowing guests to see the city and the surrounding natural landscape from above. Due to the nature of the balloons, an atmosphere of immense peace and tranquillity prevails, allowing you to look out over the ancient landscape and immerse yourself in its majesty and beauty.

Most companies also offer extra services, such as transfers from the major Palm Springs hotels, in flight refreshments and professional photographs so you can take home a physical reminder of the cherished memories you’ve created.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

This zoo is unique in as much as it specialises in desert animals, which are often quite hard to find in zoos – and certainly even more elusive in the wild! With a huge range of animals native to deserts in both North America and Africa, Living Desert Zoo and Gardens allows visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with many creatures they may otherwise only ever have seen in photographs and on film.

From North American coyotes to African giraffes, the zoo does a great job of capturing the biodiversity of desert ecosystems, and helping visitors learn about their precious role in the wider global ecosystem. And with a number of gardens where cacti and other desert plants can thrive, the zoo is a great place to experience all the desert’s biodiversity without having to venture out into the wilderness!

Palm Springs is one of the best places in the United States for a relaxing vacation by the pool side, but it’s also one of the best places to experience all the best that the desert has to offer. From rock climbing and mountain biking to drinking champagne from above the desert in a hot air balloon, visitors to Palm Springs are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to fun outdoor activities.

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