If you love nature — or live entertainment — this is the time to escape to the Coachella Valley. From Palm Springs to Indio, the skies are blue, the temperature is mild and spring is busting out all over. Name your pleasure: Flowers? Baby animals? Cowboys? Music? The desert celebrates spring in myriad ways.
Flowers and animals
Nature enthusiasts know that the explosion of wildflowers across the desert can be a showstopper. To enjoy them, take a hike within the Living Desert, the 1,200-acre botanical and zoological park in Palm Desert that showcases plants and animals from deserts around the world.
The park offers three treks: the Inner Loop, a quarter-mile trail; the onemile Middle Loop and the five-mile Wilderness Loop through the Sonoran Desert foothills. “Violet, yellow, pink and white wildflowers are likely to be seen in March and April on all of these hikes,” said Kirk Anderson, the Living Desert’s garden manager.
Spring is the best time to visit the Living Desert’s McDonald Butterfly Garden, which houses species from across North America, Anderson noted. “The warm spring temperatures make the butterflies especially active — and the hummingbirds [that also inhabit the butterfly garden] are nesting, so this is the time to see the tiny fledglings,” he said.
The Living Desert is also home to more than 500 animals and 140 species native to the deserts of North America and Africa, including zebra and giraffes.
“Our baby giraffe is celebrating its first birthday in March,” said Jennie Rayner, director of park services. “Even as an adolescent it still looks so cute and small beside its parents.”
The technicolor beauty of the backcountry wildflowers comes to life on a variety of tours. Darrell “Black Feather” Eisman, senior guide with Adventure Hummer Tours, said “a really nice explosion of wildflowers” should last perhaps up to 10 weeks. His wildflower tours follow the old gold mine back trail into Joshua Tree National Park.
“Spring is the only time to see the beautiful white flowers of the Yucca Brevifolia — and learn why this region is the only spot on the planet where Joshua trees grow,” he said.
If you like to bike, the balmy weather is ideal for cycling tours through the 125,000-acre Meccacopia Special Recreation Management Area, 45 minutes from Palm Springs. Big Wheel Tours offers tours in this wilderness area that roll past desert hills, through panoramic flatlands and to ridge tops with views of the Salton Sea.
Or ooh over the wildflowers riding in a Jeep.
Desert Adventures offers the two-hour Fargo Canyon Road Wildflower Tour in Fargo Canyon about 45 minutes from Palm Springs. “We’ll be monitoring this year’s blooms and posting information about the wildflower tour on our website,” said Bob Schneider, president of Desert Adventures.
“Two years ago, our guides counted 14 different species of wildflowers in one square meter,” he said.
Cowboys and music
Cowboy enthusiasts can pull on their boots and high tail it out to the second annual Palm Springs WestFest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo, March 24 to 27 in Palm Springs. Last year more than 12,500 people attended this whirl of riding, roping, reenacted gunfights and all things Western, said J. Alex Gomez, WestFest sponsorship director.
“WestFest pays homage to Palm Springs’ movie cowboy heritage dating from the 1930s,” he explained. Events include the three-day rodeo; a BBQ Showdown cooking contest; the Western Design Expo which features the Gene Autry Film- Fest; and the TwangFest Cowboy Music Festival of Western Music. Tickets are still available.
Music fans of all genres look forward to rocking out to three days of the top names in music and hottest new indie sounds at one of the biggest musical happenings in the world — the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, April 15 to 17, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. This year’s headliners include Kings of Leon and Kanye West.
Last year, Coachella attracted 180,000 people. And with this year already sold out, “we expect more people than ever,” said Mark Graves, Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority marketing and communications executive director. “Coachella has an enormous impact on the entire valley,” he noted, “filling hotel rooms and rental homes not only around the festival site but as far west as downtown Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs.”
— Barbara Beckley Custom Publishing Writer
Photo of spring desert flowers in the Coachella Valley courtesy of the Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority.
Los Angeles Times Custom Publishing
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