Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Palm Springs (White Water Preserve & Tahquitz Falls)

On our drive to Palm Springs for a weekend getaway, we stopped at the Whitewater Preserve, part of the non-profit Wildlands Conservancy. The Whitewater River flows all year long through this desert canyon at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains before passing through the Coachella Valley into the Salton Sea. After parking at the picnic grounds with crystal clear pools, we hiked the short distance along the Whitewater Trail to the river. With the distinctive white stones of the the riverbed, it was easy to see how it got its name. We passed several families with children splashing in the water as we walked upstream along the rocky bank.

Video of the Whitewater River

Our original plan had been to hike north along the river to Red Dome but the winter storms had washed out part of the trail. The ranger instead suggested that we hike the Canyon View Loop Trail so we drove down to the small parking lot at the Tukut Trailhead. There were beautiful wildflowers along the trail as we climbed the steep switchbacks with awesome views of river valley below. To the south, we could see the snow-capped peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains. Even with no shade from the bright sun, the strong breeze kept us cool.

Video of Whitewater River from Canyon View Loop Trail

Once we reached the top, we followed the relatively flat ridgeline with sweeping views of the back country. While the entire loop is 3.5 miles, it is a temporary out-and-back trail due to the storm damage. We turned around before descending the far side of the ridge where the Canyon View Trail connects to the Pacific Coast Trail that washed out near the river. Our hike ended up being 2.5 miles by the time we returned to my truck, but it was the same total distance if we added our early mile hike along the river bed. This was a beautiful hike and I would recommend it to anyone.

After checking in at Palm Canyon Resort, we drove over to nearby Bermuda Dunes for dinner at Chef George's Hungarian Restaurant. I have been wanting Hungarian food for awhile now but there are none in San Diego anymore. I enjoyed the Beef Goulash even though it was served with mashed potatoes instead of Spatzle or Dumplings. For desert, we shared the Apple Strudel. After our meal, we went into the large bar lounge where Michael D'Angelo & Jimmy Street were performing. It was packed with an older crowd singing along to tunes from the 50's, 60's and 70's.

In the morning, we went to Wilma & Frieda in Downtown Palm Springs for brunch. Chef Chad's Biscuits & Gravy are super tasty, the best I have ever had!

After breakfast, we went to Tahquitz Canyon to hike the two mile waterfall loop. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians charges $15 to enter the canyon and requires each hiker to carry 32oz. of water with them. The popular trail follows the Tahquitz Creek, crossing over several times along the route. We saw a Desert Spiny Lizard with colorful scales and we had to scramble over some rocks to avoid a rattlesnake lying across the path. Near the top, we passed the active USGS Gaging Station measuring the water flow of the creek.

After climbing 350 feet of elevation, we were pretty hot due to the lack of wind in the enclosed canyon so we were grateful for the cool shade at the base of the 60 foot water fall. If I had worn trunks, I might have waded out into the small pool to get closer to the falls tucked into the narrow ravine. The canyon and waterfall is named after Tahquitz, a legendary Indian spirit who turned evil and was banished to this canyon. The loose boulders in the canyon are from Tahquitz stamping and shaking the ground. He is fabled to captures the souls of those who enter the canyon at night.

After our hike, we returned to the Palm Canyon Resort and relaxed at the pool. The bartenders make a tasty cocktail! I think the waterslide is too small for me. I banged against every corner on the way down. Ha! For dinner, we went to 1501 Uptown Gastropub. Tori had the Cold Roasted Chicken Sandwich and I really enjoyed the Pressed Kobe Short Rib Sandwich. The Horseradish Slaw was amazing but intense!

For breakfast, we went to the popular Cheeky's where we shared the Chilaquilas and a Cinnamon Roll. I also tried their Bacon Flight and the dill pickle and jalapeƱo flavors were my favorite. On our way to the Art Museum, we stopped to see the Forever Marilyn sculpture. We originally saw this 26 foot high statue of Marilyn Monroe on a trip in 2013 before it left Palms Springs to move around the country. It returned in 2021 to its permanent location on Museum Way. The artist, Seward Johnson, recreated Marilyn's pose from Billy Wilder's 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch.

It was our first time visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum. Near the entrance was the Norman Zammitt exhibition, Gradations. I wasn't expecting to be inspired by the subtle variations of color in his artwork, but I was. We enjoyed walking through all the galleries and being surprised by the hyperrealist figures of the Old Couple on a Bench by Duane Hanson. Out of the corner of my eye, I assumed they were just other museum visitors until Tori pointed them out. Downstairs are two outdoor sculpture gardens with fountains that bring to mind the famous swimming pools of Palm Springs.

Video of 80" Great Rhombicosidodecahedron by Anthony James. This piece blows my mind!

Some of my favorite art in the museum was the Meditations in Glass exhibit by several artists. Surge 9 by Masahiro Asaka and Pianist's Dress Impression by Karen LaMonte fascinated me. After walking through all the galleries, we visited the Aluminaire House next door. Designed by the Palm Springs' architect, Albert Frey, it was built in 1931 as a full-scale prototype for affordable mass-produced housing using modern methods and materials. It is constructed primarily of aluminum, steel and glass. Maybe the idea didn't take off due to the "too hot to touch" surface under the bright sun.

After hanging out at the pool again, we went to eat at El Jefe Desert Cantina in The Saguaro Palm Springs. For Happy Hour, we enjoyed the Margaritas and Mini Nachos in the central courtyard of the colorful hotel. I also ordered the delicious Cochinita Pibil Tacos and Tori enjoyed the Vegan Hongos Tacos. I would definitely return again! 

After our meal, we walked around Downtown Palm Springs. One of my calves was really tight from the two days of hiking, so it was good to try and loosen it up. We had fun with the public art we found along the way. For dessert, we stopped for ice cream at Ben & Jerry's.

We checked out the next morning and drove home, stopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets. Tori found a new purse and I bought a few pairs of Levi's.

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