Hi everyone! My name is Kelsey Littlefield (@kelsleigh). I am 25 going on 26 years old living in Dallas, Texas. In this article, I would love to share with you my experience at the amazing Indian Canyons of Palm Springs, California.
I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas and went to the University of North Texas in Denton. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dallas and would probably never move, but it’s not the most inspiring place to be all the time.
One of my hobbies/passions is photography. Having that natural eye for things, places and people gives me such an itch to go out and explore destinations that are more inspiring than my day-to-day surroundings.
Dallas has its places and moments but I just can’t help wanting to be somewhere else. Somewhere that makes my stomach drop and serotonin rush through my veins! You know? Just talking about it makes me giddy.
Long Weekend in California
My high school friend moved to Southern California with her husband, who happens to be in the Marines. So naturally they had to be based there for his work. She was happy to move. Anyway, my two roommates and I visited her for a long weekend in Carlsbad in the month of September, 2020.
Usually if I travel to a different state, I make a point of seeing something on my travel bucket list or just going somewhere inspiring. I actually googled how far Palm Springs, California was from Carlsbad. Two hours? Not so bad!
I have always wanted to visit Palm Springs. After begging her to take me, she agreed to go and we started researching places. This led us to Pinterest boards and blog posts about the Indian Canyons. Oh my god! It felt like I just hit the jackpot by discovering this hidden gem. My head was spinning!
I couldn’t believe that I was about to have the opportunity to see something so unique. Visiting the Indian Canyons was the highlight of the whole trip for me. It was one of the top experiences of my life hands down. I feel so blessed to have seen the Indian Canyons with my own eyes.
Indian Canyons: A Hidden Gem in the Middle of the Desert
I have so many great things to say about the Indian Canyons. It’s literally a precious gem in the desert. The best way to describe it is hidden clusters of huge native palm trees in the middle of the desert. The palm trees feel so random – just standing tall and proud. Totally unbothered yet majestic.
You feel small under the towering palms. The atmosphere is calm, quiet and serene. Of course, everyone knows that Palm Springs is hot but down in the canyon it feels nice. It wasn’t hot even a little bit down there. But walking down and coming back up to your car, that is a different story!
I think the Indian Canyons should be on everyone’s bucket list because the destination is just unique. I can’t recall seeing anything similar in the US. It’s hard to not stand there, marvel at the palms and lose track of time.
Favorite Part of the Indian Canyons
My favorite part of my trip to the Indian Canyons was mainly experiencing something brand new with my friends and exploring. Honestly, trying to find the park was difficult at first. But on the positive side, I think it’s kind of fun to be detectives and search for what you are looking for.
Weirdly enough there isn’t much on the Internet about how to get to the Indian Canyons or how you can find it. Or maybe we just didn’t search hard enough online? Who knows. We were just too excited to care about the logistics of it all. I think that is why I found the whole experience surreal.
Great things are worth searching for. Also, there is this low hanging tree that you can sit and walk on. It’s so cute, like a nature-made bench! Check out my photos below which showcase this awesome natural phenomenon.
Things To Do at the Indian Canyons
From my knowledge, there are three main canyons within the Indian Canyons: Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon and Palm Canyon. Each canyon offers a different range of things to do and sights to see.
We were located in Palm Canyon. Seeing the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and how they built their homes/how they still thrive on the land was a special experience. If you are a history buff, you will definitely enjoy the pieces of history that live here.
You may also be lucky enough to see a rattlesnake. I will never forget the moment when we saw a rattlesnake. My friends were freaked out but I was too busy admiring the trees to care. I think it’s cool to say that I have seen a rattlesnake. My philosophy: “don’t bother it and it won’t bother you”!
Of course, the canyons are known for hiking trails. There are even streams of water and little watering holes to explore in the desert. Who would have thought?! All in all, seeing the rolling hills, valleys and canyons is a treat. This is especially true for someone like me who lives in flat land – Texas.
Staying in Palm Springs or Indio
When visiting the canyons, the best place to stay is Palm Springs. There are lots of hotels, restaurants and shopping here. You can even go see where Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley lived! It’s close to Indio which is a unique town as well. We didn’t stay in either since our friend lives in Carlsbad.
Other Places to See in California
As mentioned above, Indio is a cool town to base yourself in while visiting the canyons. There are windmills near Indio which are fun to see. Is that nerdy? You also can’t forget Joshua Tree National Park. It’s located two hours from Palm Springs. I wish I could have seen those famous trees!
On the way from Carlsbad, we passed through a city called Temecula which is known for being the southern Napa. You can explore tons of wineries. I have personally heard some great reviews about that place. Ultimately, there is never a shortage of things to see in Southern California.
Tips for Visiting the Indian Canyons
I would like to leave you with a few key tips for your visit to the Indian Canyons. Some of them might seem obvious but for us (since we visited to take photos and not go hiking) we could have known about these tips:
- Bring lots and lots of water
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes even if you are going just to take photos. It’s not much fun going up and down the hill with bad footwear.
- Make sure your Google Maps says Indian Canyons State Park and not just Indian Canyons. Otherwise, you will be taken to a residential street with a house. Yes, we made that mistake embarrassingly enough.
- If you are active military, you can get a discount on your entry ticket
- Put on sunscreen – those sun rays are no joke
- Watch out for rattlesnakes
- Get there early. I read that parking can get hard when it’s busy. We arrived early and didn’t have any issues with parking, fortunately.
- Take some toilet paper with you. In these COVID times who knows if the public restrooms will be open or not.
- There are public tables in the canyons if you would like to bring food
- Capture as many photos as you can!