Coachella Valley Travel: An Excursion to the Thousand Palms Oasis
California’s Coachella Valley is extremely popular with winter travellers and snowbirds who enjoy the pleasant climate during the cold months. Our getaway in March of 2015 provided us with a wonderful break from the long and harsh winter we had been having in Toronto. While we were staying at the Indian Wells Vacation Club, we headed out for a morning walk throughout the club’s grounds almost every day. Mornings in the desert climate of the Coachella Valley are absolutely gorgeous – the air is warm and dry, the birds are chirping and the flowers and bushes are blooming. After 10 am it can get rather hot, so mornings and evenings are the best time to get out and do exercise.
On a gorgeous March 10, 2015 I decided to undertake some local explorations and went on an excursion from the town of Indio, where we were staying. The lady in the local tourist office gave me some great advice of what to see and do locally. I had never really been in a desert before and wanted to explore the arid mountains that surround this valley. She suggested that I head to the Coachella Valley Preserve, a protected area contains an oasis that is created by water seeping out of the San Andreas Fault. Given my interest in geology, this was a perfect suggestion.
I started my visit of the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve at the rustic visitor centre, which is called “the Palm House”. A fellow by the name of Albert Thornburg had created this oasis homestead in 1900 and built this simple structure from palm trunks. Five years later, he ended up trading the entire oasis for two mules and a wooden wagon to a certain Paul Wilhelm who had always wanted the oasis to be a public park.
From this quaint small cottage I started walking inside the Thousand Palms Oasis and admired the thick canopy formed by the fan palm trees. At the bottom of the palm trees, all sorts of wooden walkways had been built that were snaking in between the palm trees above a marshy bottom. The temperature in this palm grove was downright pleasant and significantly lower than in the surrounding desert.
After walking through the dense and shady grove of fan palms at the Coachella Valley Preserve I left the greenery behind and continued on a sandy walking trail in the hot desert sun. This was the edge of the oasis and only a few palms here or there were now lining the pathway before the desert landscape took over. The arid San Bernardino Mountains to the east were looming on the horizon, completely bare of any major vegetation. This visit to the Coachella Valley was my first time in a real desert, and there is definitely a stark beauty to this austere landscape.