Why You Should Take a Desert Jeep Tour in Palm Springs
I didn’t want to do it at first… riding around the desert in a jeep and looking at the stars. After several long days of hiking and biking, I wasn’t in any kind of physical mood to go. The 3-hour tour sounded like an eternity on this last evening in town. But after five minutes in the jeep my opinion changed 180 degrees.
Our provider was Desert Adventures*, known by their signature, open-top red jeeps. We boarded our 4×4 in the parking lot of a local shopping plaza and were quickly whisked away to an almost alien landscape, leaving the comfort and safety of civilization behind us.
With the sun preparing to set, our first stop was a Palm Oasis. Surrounding us was nothing but the dryness of the desert, yet somehow, these palm trees found a way to survive on the smallest trickle of water running through the sand.
Our guide Tom led the way along the trail, rustling bushes to expose any rattlesnakes we may unexpectedly encounter! Fortunately (or unfortunately), none were around. We paused for a moment to admire an owl taking up residence in a nearby palm tree. It’s hard to imagine that anything could survive out here, but this little owl was just the start of our lesson on desert living.
We boarded the jeep and continued on to our next destination, a recreation of a Cahuilla Indian Village.
The Cahuilla Indians (Native Americans) populated the desert region – a feat that is eye opening. They were able to find food, water, build shelter and live off the land 100%. They were able to build tools with whatever they could find, and find medicinal purposes from the wide variety of plant species found throughout the desert. Our guide found some plants in bloom that we could taste.
…Not a gourmet meal, but still amazing that sustenance can be found out here.
After spending only a day hiking through the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, I couldn’t imagine spending anymore time out there without air conditioning, swimming pools and other comfortable living amenitities. To truly appreciate the desert environment, you need to learn how people adapted, survived and thrived. You’ll look at the desert with an entirely new perspective.
We left the village for an Indiana Jones-like journey towards the nearby mountains. Our jeep bounced around on the uneven terrain, the wind blowing through our hair with the oranges of the sun setting warming everything behind us. We paused for a moment to learn more about the San Andreas Fault, the nearby geological landmark that likes to shake things up every once in a while.
Surprisingly, there are hundreds of earthquakes that are happening all the time. Most are too small too feel.
Moving onward, the desert flats became narrow crevices, as the canyon grew around us. With the skill of a surgeon, Tom drove us through, just barely avoiding smashing the jeep’s side view mirrors with the rocky walls around us.
We reached a dead end, exiting the jeep and proceeding onward on foot. We shimmied ourselves over the rocks, exploring the earth as if we were the first ones there.
We turned off our lights and stood in silence at the pitch blackness of night upon us. We were the only ones around for miles. The eery quiet of the desert was a stark contrast to the excitement of Palm Springs we left behind.
The final stop of the night was a Western town setting Desert Adventures uses for weddings and other corporate events. It was here, away from the city lights, we were able to gaze at the stars. Tom used a laser point that reached out to the stars above us, literally. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The green light pierced the inky blackness towards the twinkling stars above. An audio narration completed the moment, sharing information on the stars and planets in the sky.
After spending several days in Palm Springs, wondering what it must be like to live in the desert, this tour answered it all. I was captivated by the scenery, storytelling and adaptability of the Cahuilla people in the most harshest of environments. I really wished I had taken this tour when I first arrived, to fully understand everything I saw in the region.
As it turned out, this tour was one of my highlights of Palm Springs.
Have you ever had an experience that surprised you in a good way? Share by commenting.
I’ll see you out there…!
*Desert Adventures provided me with a complimentary jeep tour.