One of the things that Palm Springs is known for is its sweeping desert landscapes. All along the stark Coachella Valley, rugged mountains rise up on every side, accentuating the glitzy lights and muted plains below.
Taking in these views is one of the best activities to do in Palm Springs, so if you’re visiting or living in the valley, make sure to check out at least one of these amazing view points for surveying the awe-inspiring beauty of the Coachella Valley.
1) Keys View, Joshua Tree
Keys View is arguably the best spot for taking in panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. However, of all the spots on this list, it is probably the hardest to get to from the valley itself.
Keys View is located in the beautiful Joshua Tree National Park at the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, which run along the north side of the Coachella Valley.
Take Keys View Road off the main Park Boulevard and you’ll get to the view site after about 30 minutes from the park entrance. The site itself has ample parking and a short, well-marked and paved loop trail up to the viewpoint.
While the desert haze can make it difficult on most days, on a clear day you can see along the valley all the way to Mexico.
2) Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Mountain Station
Take a relaxing gondola ride 8,500 feet up from the valley floor and end the trip with a sumptuous meal at the Peaks Restaurant below Mount San Jacinto. Relax and take in the views from your dinner table, or hike out towards the peak depending on your taste.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a popular destination for visitors and residents of Palm Springs, and is accessible off North Palm Canyon Drive. Take the Tramway Road from the intersection with the Palm Springs Visitor Center and you’ll be there in less than 10 minutes.
Surrounded by rocky cliffs and trees you can take in views of the Coachella Valley’s north end, as well as the Little San Bernardino Mountains and Downtown Palm Springs.
4) Coachella Valley Vista Point, South of Palm Desert
Approximately 15 minutes south of California Route 11, up a winding road into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, sits the Coachella Valley Vista Point.
This route can be taken further south, connecting through scenic valleys and towns towards San Diego. As such, the view point sits on a working route that can be accessed in the evenings as well, making for romantic views of the city lights below.
The site may not have the capacity or facilities as others, but this is still a popular spot with an unparalleled view of the city of Palm Desert. It’s also a great place to escape the heat, and for starting a journey into the rugged wilderness south of Palm Springs.
5) The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Above Cathedral City, between Palm Springs and Palm Desert, the Rancho Mirage Ritz-Carlton is an upmarket resort hotel. Accessible via Frank Sinatra Drive this spot doesn’t quite rise to the literal heights that some of the other viewpoints on this list do, but it makes up for it with luxury and comfort.
Best of all, you won’t need to grab a room here to enjoy the view (although that’s definitely a good way to do it). Instead, you can enjoy some fine dining at The Edge Steakhouse or a drink at the Air Pool Bar, gazing out of the windows at the awe-inspiring valley and beautiful lights of this part of the valley.
6) The North Lykken Trail, Downtown Palm Springs
The North Lykken Trailhead is accessible just off the western endpoint of Ramon Road, south of Downtown Palm Springs. The trail snakes back and forth up the eastern slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains, opening up a view of downtown Palm Springs below.
This is a great hike if you’re looking for some fresh air and exercise, all within a convenient distance of central Palm Springs. Walk as far as you want, and then come back down to enjoy some of the cafes or other attractions along Palm Springs’ main drive.
You can also use the trail to travel to some points further north, branching off by the Skyline Trail, or continuing north to either Tachevah or Chino Canyons.
Either way, this is a moderately difficult hike, relatively short in distance by gaining a lot of elevation in a short time, and also a great way to get up close with the natural surroundings of Palm Springs.
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