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5 Epic Explorations in the Coachella Valley

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The Coachella Valley is so much more than a string of resort cities. It’s where the mountains meet the desert. With that comes all sorts of awesome places to get outside and explore. From the snow-capped peaks of the Santa Rosas and San Jacintos to the stunning beauty of the Salton Sea, these five epic explorations offer an up-close look at what makes the Coachella Valley so amazing.

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Encompassing more than 280,000 acres of public land, this national monument offers plenty of rugged backcountry to explore. There’s natural beauty at every turn in the mesmerizing Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, which peak at 10,834 feet. Sand dunes. Palm tree oases. Agaves. Pinyon and Jeffrey pines. Alpine meadows. You get the idea. Equally fascinating are the historic cultural sites you’ll discover in the homeland of the Cahuilla people. 

Palm to Pines Scenic Byway

For a mini-road trip you won’t soon forget, explore the 67-mile Palm to Pines Scenic Byway. Start on Highway 74 south of Palm Desert and work your way around the San Jacinto Mountains toward Banning, which is northwest of Palm Desert. You’ll travel Highway 74 for a good stretch before turning onto Highway 243, passing by everything from palm trees and picturesque desert to pine forests and snow-capped mountains.

Joshua Tree National Park

From its fascinating rock formations to its namesake trees, this iconic national park belongs on your bucket list. Sitting at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree offers a huge expanse of rugged desert terrain to explore. Amazing hiking trails, excellent camping, unreal rock climbing, and a landscape packed with photogenic vistas await you at this awesome national park.

San Andreas Fault

Get an up-close glimpse of California’s most infamous geological feature – the San Andreas Fault. The faultline that caused many of the state’s most destructive natural disasters, including the 1906 San Francisco and 1989 Loma Prieta quakes, serves up some epic scenery thanks to the fault’s colliding tectonic plates. The section of the San Andreas Fault that runs near Palm Springs is filled with especially awesome natural features, from its gorgeous rock slot canyon walls to desert oases fed by underground fissures. Don’t want to go it alone? No worries. Local guide company Desert Adventures offers Jeep tours for an even more in-depth look at this amazing natural wonder.

Salton Sea

Just south of Indio, the Salton Sea is a natural wonder that makes for epic exploration. This 15-mile-wide, 35-mile-long lake in the middle of the desert is home to all sorts of wildlife – including more than 400 species of migrating birds – and rich vegetation that juxtaposes beautifully against the parched desert backdrop. Its origin story is pretty fascinating, too. This “accidental” sea, which sits roughly 230 feet below sea level, was formed in 1905 when water from the Colorado River was inadvertently diverted into the Salton Sink. Accidental or not, Salton is worth a visit. It’s a great spot to camp, fish, kayak, or bird watch.

Make It Happen

Need a place to store all your outdoor gear between epic explorations of the Coachella Valley? StorQuest Self Storage’s brand-new, state-of-the-art facility in La Quinta has you covered with storage units in a wide range of sizes – including climate-controlled spaces.

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