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Introducing Palm Springs & The Deserts

California’s outback is where the Wild West lives on. Though spliced by ribbons of interstate, the desert state of mind is as far from Los Angeles as Shangri-La. It’s the lair of escapists, hedonists, rabble-rousing ranchers, prophetic environmentalists, Native American tribes, eccentric folk artists and daredevil test pilots. If coastal California is a misleading dream manufactured in Hollywood, then the desert is the Golden State’s jaw-dropping biblical reality. People come here to seek healing hot springs, to dig gold out of the bowels of the earth, even to play God by creating miraculous oases of green.

Hunter S Thompson famously wrote, ‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.’ Luckily, you won’t need a suitcase full of illegal substances just to relive his joyride. The desert landscape itself is a hallucinogen, with vast expanses of sand interrupted only by the seeming mirages of mountain peaks. Once you flee the subdivisions encircling the celebrity playground of Palm Springs, the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts stretch as far as the eye can see: south down Mexico way, east to the neon lights of Las Vegas and north to the snowy Sierra Nevada range.

On long, lonely stretches of road between desert outposts, such as on tumbleweed-ridden Route 66, the solitude is as refreshing as ice. Singing sand dunes near Death Valley, the Mojave National Preserve’s volcanic cinder cones, marble-like boulders across Joshua Tree National Park, and remote tracks to lush palm canyons in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - all will test your limits as they soothe your soul. Rejuvenation, even rebirth, happens here.