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Oasis outside Palm Springs: Coachella Valley Preserve


Palm Springs, CA- During a trip to Coachella Valley, perception and reality clashed in spectacular fashion. The desert holds many secrets and surprises, but offers them up only to those willing to venture a bit closer.

A brief jaunt to the Palm Springs area had us in search of a nearby desert exploration opportunity. A quick search turned up the Coachella Valley Preserve just a few miles outside of town on the northern side of Interstate 10 and south of Joshua Tree National Park. Easy to access and free to enjoy, we arrived early to avoid to hottest part of the desert day.

Having never experienced an actual oasis in the desert, my expectations were minimal at best and drawn from a vague collection of childhood books from decades past. My wife along with two of my teen children would be accompanying me this pleasantly warm April morning.

With signposts marked Moon Country and McCallum Pond we were drawn in and on our way with great anticipation. Stay on the trails and keep a close eye out for active snakes. Lizards were commonplace during our hike.

En route the walk is gentle and flat, but the soft sand will give your legs a little extra workout. Some young families along the trails were carrying youngsters with tired legs wondering how much longer to the oasis. A little encouragement was offered up and they pressed on with smiles. Wildflowers of yellow, purple abound with broad desert views make this a memorable hike.

Thousand Palms Oasis

Before long the palm tree oasis greeted us. Wide-grinned smiles enveloped our faces as the shade encircled us and the temperatures chilled to air conditioned comfort levels. This place is a wildlife magnet which had birds breaking out in song around the cool pond which is spring fed from a crack in the San Andreas fault. Tadpoles and pupfish swam seemingly unaware of the molten-like heat of the surrounding desert. The physical size of the oasis was quite large and not the tiny island etched in our imaginations.

Imagine the thrill of bygone desert travelers coming across this oasis while traversing this parched blistering landscape. Wow!

Vista Point - Panoramic 360 Degree Views

After the oasis cooldown and hangout, we trekked out and hit the trail marked Moon Country toward Vista Point (can you really pass up a trail with a name like Moon Country?). We scurried up the short path to Vista Point and were not disappointed. Met with panoramic 360 degree views of the desert and mountains, it felt as if we were 2,000 light years from home. I snapped pics and video as my daughter remarked to my wife, "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"

With my daughter's comment, there was nothing left to add as we absorbed the spectacular scenery and experience. We hiked out more in awe of the desert than before we entered and more reflective of just how small we all are in this grand adventure of life.

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