A group of palm trees in the desert under cloudy skies.
Desert Oasis Matthew Bamberg, Photographer

Palm Springs is on top of a giant aquifer and under a grand mountain. Water might not look like it’s everywhere: however, it’s easy to find. Two oases are worth visiting Indian and Palm Canyons, each taking a good part of a hiking day. 

After a wet winter in 2023 and the direct hit of freak Tropical Storm Hilary, the first ever to strike Palm Springs, the desert is still green. 

Purple patches of verbena rise from the ground, a weird sight now that it’s fall, the Coachella Valley’s bone-dry session where all botanical life is thirsty. Not this year. 

The Coachella Valley is filled with oases. Hiking inside offers some cool shade and the desert’s most valuable resource””water. In Palm Springs, Tahquitz and Indian Canyons are your best bets. Go early as lines do form during the season. 

The trees wear skirts, some all the way to the ground. The skirts are made up of dead palm fronds that stick close together. If you sneak a peek inside the skirt, you might see a bat or two hanging upside down. 

Study the mainstay of each oasis, the palm trees. The Washingtonians, or desert fan palms (thick with palm fronds) grow in thatches and provide plenty of shade for a picnic. 

Some have curving trunks that grow along the ground and then soar to the sky. 

Stay away from the trails during late spring, summer and early fall as temps soar above 100 degrees and people do die, or at the very least get a significant case of heat stroke, which is no fun. 

When days are hot, plan on an early morning hike. Never plan a late afternoon hike on hot days, as the heat is really cooking by 4 pm. 


View the wildlife cautiously. You’re likely to see many birds (robins, geese, road runners and occasionally a Western blue jay), rabbits, jackrabbits (larger rabbits with giant ears), coyotes, bats, and turtles. 

Bring a camera with a zoom lens if possible. Birds generally will stay high in the trees, ready to be seen with a zoom lens or a good pair of binoculars. And”¦yes, there are plenty of skittish roadrunners that travel quickly on the ground with frequent stops. If you see one pausing, click your camera screen quickly and frequently so you can pick the best shot. 

Look around at all times for rabbits and jackrabbits, as they are ubiquitous. (Yes, the story of them being able to reproduce quickly is true.) Jackrabbits are a sight to see, but move quickly so viewing them is sure to be short-lived. Their larger bodies are powerful with ears rising up like mini-skyscrapers in order to detect predators nearby. Think coyotes, hawks, eagles, and crows who eat the babies.  

Look at the ground frequently while hiking. You’re in rattlesnake territory. If you hear a “cha, cha, cha” it’s not dance music. It’s likely to be a rattlesnake. If the sound comes along look around. When you see the snake, take a step back, or to either side of it.  

Coyotes romp around in the early morning around dawn, but you can see them anytime. They won’t attack if you stay calm. They might follow you, which for them is cool. They want to politely escort you out of their territory. 

Coyotes are also known to travel up to 36 miles in three days, probably the maximum time palm seeds can remain in the digestive tract of any canine. Thus, coyotes may be the most important dispersal agents of the palm’s seeds and could have transported them to almost all the known fan palm sites. 

Thirst is a very important human need; you don’t want to feel the sensation. If you do that means you’re dehydrated. Always carry plenty of water in the desert even if it’s cool. Take frequent sips throughout the time you are outside. 

Finally, look into the ponds big and small. Gaze into the water. You might see an endangered pupfish, small and kinda cute. 

The Tahquitz and Indian Canyon oases in Palm Springs contain trails for all levels of hikers. Heck, you can just sit there if you are not into hiking.

Both Tahquitz and Indian Canyon Oases land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.


Oct. 1 – July 4: daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

(Last vehicle in at 4 p.m.)

July 5 – Sept. 30: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

(open only Friday, Saturday, Sunday – Last vehicle in at 4 p.m.)

No animals allowed. 

Uber/Lyft Drivers are required to display company stickers in their windshield for drop-off and pickup.


$15 Adults $7 Seniors, Children

Tahquitz Canyon: 500 W Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Indian Canyons: 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264