Outdoors in Palm Springs: Best Parks and Attractions to Enjoy Outside

If the thought of visiting a hyped up, crowded tourist attraction makes you cringe with anxiety, this list of parks and attractions will help you plan an enjoyable trip to Palm Springs. The desert is filled with museums and landmarks that draw throngs of visitors, but there are also a number of parks and attractions that focus on a slower way of doing things.

To the north of Palm Springs, you'll find Joshua Tree National Park, which boasts two different deserts, larger than life rock formations and, of course, fields of joshua trees. You can spend a day hiking, rock climbing or sightseeing, and for unmatched views of the night sky, you can even camp overnight. If you're looking for a cooler escape, Mount San Jacinto State Park at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers nature walks and hiking trails that stretch as far as Idyllwild.

If you'd rather explore the desert with a guide, Desert Adventures offers several jeep tours to Joshua Tree National Park and the San Andreas fault. And for an afternoon stroll in a garden setting, don't miss the Sunnylands Center and Gardens, which recently opened in Rancho Mirage, or Moorten Botanical Gardens in Palm Springs.



At this gorgeous labor of love just off of Palm Canyon Drive, more than 3000 varieties of desert plants can be viewed and marveled at, including prickly pears, agaves, and cacti. In addition, visitors can check out Indian artifacts and rock,...  Read More



Sparkling springs set amid 20,000 acres of lush greenery provide a haven for a myriad desert creatures, just five miles outside of Palm Springs. In the center is a 1000-acre, idyllic palm oasis that served as the backdrop for Cecil De Mille's...  Read More



If you're an outdoorsy type, you'll be delighted by this high-altitude park's 54 miles of hiking trails, camping and picnic areas, and guided wilderness mule rides during snow-free months. Nestled between the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and the...  Read More



Once a community center for the native Cahuilla people, the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons are a recreational oasis for hikers, horseback riders and nature lovers. Protected by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the area's hiking trails...  Read More

Knott's Soak City Water Park Palm Springs


With 360 days of sunshine in Palm Springs each year, it's no wonder locals and tourists alike have flocked to Knott's Soak City to beat the heat since 2001. This 16-acre water park is generally open from March through October and offers 20 water...  Read More



Sunnylands is a historic, 200-acre estate in Rancho Mirage. Once the winter home of Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, this A Quincy Jones-designed estate has hosted a number of high-powered retreats for politics, education and the arts....  Read More



Discover the outdoors from the open bed of a red jeep on a Desert Adventures tour. The tour company specializes in eco tours of the Coachella Valley, including tours of Joshua Tree National Park, the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons, Mecca Hills and...  Read More



Ever wonder what a roadrunner and coyote really look like? At The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, you can meet the real life inspiration for these desert-dwelling "Looney Tunes" characters. This Palm Desert zoo focuses on educating visitors about...  Read More

Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree National Park is about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, but it feels like a world away. Filled with hiking trails, scenic vistas and larger-than-life rock formations, Joshua Tree is the perfect destination for those looking to...  Read More



There's no better way to view the Coachella Valley than from above. Don't settle for the view from your airplane window, though. For the best views of the desert, take a cable car into the mountains at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A 12.5...  Read More


Meet Marissa Willman

Marissa Willman moved to the Coachella Valley in 2001 and loves discovering the best that the desert has to offer. As a Palm Springs local, Marissa enjoys sharing her knowledge of this desert...  More About Marissa