Tucked in the folds of the San Jacinto Mountains, just a few miles from
the heart of Palm Springs, are the beautiful Indian Canyons. This place
is a delight to botanists, artists, photographers and visitors
searching for a desert oasis. Here, pure, clean water pours over
brilliantly colored rocks to settle in clear, sand-bottomed pools.
The 15-mile Palm Canyon is considered the most picturesque of the
Indian Canyons. Visitors can follow an easy foot trail that winds its
way through the palms and over rock formations to smaller gorges and
canyons to experience breathtaking splendor.
Desert riders can enjoy Andreas Canyon’s bridle path that meanders
through this narrow valley. Its sheer cliffs and caves are favorites
for hikers interested in serious exploration. Andreas is full of
willows, sycamores, wild grape and mesquite. The canyon is bathed in
waters from towering peaks. Its lagoons and small waterfalls add charm
to the setting.
Murray Canyon, accessible from Andreas, is ideal for picnicking and
light hiking. While smaller, more primitive and less accessible than
Palm or Andreas Canyons, it remains much the same way early dwellers
found it. In this canyon, two wild horses thought to be descendants of
animals belonging to the early Indians, can be seen on rare occasions
roaming the hills.
These canyons are home to the official plant of Palm Springs, the
Washingtonia filifera palms, found only in several areas of Arizona and
Southern California. A great number of these trees flourish within the
boundary of the canyons, which were planted in aboriginal times and
served as an important food source and the means for creating utensils,
baskets, sandals and shelter. The largest and most extensive filifera
grow in Palm Canyon, where an icy stream runs year-round.
The ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians enjoyed the
solitude of the sheltered canyons when temperatures soared during the
summer. The gorges still contain evidence of early native inhabitants.
Pictographs etched on rock walls can be seen in isolated areas of the
valleys, while some artifacts are housed in museums. For grinding meal,
the Indians used flat granite rocks, surrounding the Andreas Canyon
stream. Some of the Indians’ original tools were found here and in
nearby caves. Local legend surrounds one granite ledge, called “Gossip
Rock,” where it is said Indian women sat to grind grain and talk about
the events of the day.
The Palm Springs Indian Canyons are open year-round and owned and
operated by the descendants of those early Indian settlers. Visitors
are invited to experience this natural museum - a historic, sacred and
magical place - by hiking, picnicking, horseback riding and exploring.
There is a nominal entrance fee.
Photos Courtesy: Indian Canyons - Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority