Indian Canyons Wildflower Hike @ Palm Springs, CA

Andreas Canyon Hike & Murray Canyon Hike
Indian Canyons, Palm Springs, CA
April 8th 2010

The wildflowers have reached their peak in the Palm Springs, CA area. The temperatures have warmed up and the pungent aroma of flowers in bloom fills the desert air.  April is the perfect month to hike the desert trails, as the weather is still cool and the blooming wildflowers highlight the desert landscape, creating an artists’ palette.

California fan palms and brittlebush.

The Indian Canyons are located on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation at the end of South Palm Canyon Dr. in Palm Springs, CA.  There is a tollgate at the canyon entrance where you pay for admission. The fees are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and military.  Children 6-12 are $4 and equestrians can ride the trails for a fee of $10.

Hedgehog cactus blooms.

The drive to the entrance at Indian Canyons and to the Andreas Canyon trailhead is a palette of bright yellow and green.  Brittlebush is the dominant wildflower in bloom in this area. You won’t have to leave the trail to find wildflowers in canyons as they are abundant here. The rock walls and slopes along the trails are dotted with bright blooms. Fields of bright yellow brittlebush spotted with the orange blossoms of an occasional apricot globe mallow were visible.  Near the map display by the trailhead there was a hedgehog cactus in full bloom.

I was hiking with my friend Sue and we arrived at the trailhead at 8:15 am on a Thursday morning.  Only one other car was in the parking lot.  Temperatures were supposed to reach 90° F on the day of our hike, so we planned an early start time to avoid the hottest part of the day.  We loaded up our backpacks with plenty of water and a few snacks. With cameras in hand we headed up the trail, stopping often to photograph lizards and flowers along the way.

An owl was perched on a rock ledge above the trail.

The Andreas Canyon Trail is a 1/2 mile trail that takes you on an upward slope that meanders along the Andreas Creek.  The trail is shaded with California fan palms along the first section of the route.  There are more than 150 plant species in the ½ mile radius of the trailhead.

The rock cliffs that tower above the right side of the path are home to all types of wildlife.  As we scanned the walls for petroglyphs my friend Sue spotted an owl.  My 35- 350 mm Canon lens was just long enough to photograph the owl.   Lizards were retreating from the trail as we made our way up towards the top of the loop, where you could see some old rock houses built by the Cahuilla Indians. There is a fence protecting the structures, but you can still view them from the trail.

A wooden bridge traversed the stream and the trail opened up to sunny fields of brittlebush, apricot globe mallow and other flowering plants.  We saw one indigo bush in bloom, along with chicory flowers, Canterbury bells, datura and fiddleneck.  Cholla cactus, hedgehog cactus and barrel cactus were also flowering. From this point onward the trail slopes downhill and the valley below, flanked by more mountains, comes into view.

We arrived back at the parking lot about 40 minutes after our departure. We still had plenty of time to explore the canyons, so we decided to check out the first half of the Murray Canyon Trail.  This trail provides nice views of the valley beneath it, which is filled with yellow brittlebush.  We hiked up to the base of the Palm Oases that were about  ¾ of a mile from the trailhead.  The area was filled with birds and there was another photographer at the oases shooting photos of them, and of all the other wildlife there. It is an excellent area to go bird watching.  The birds nest in the palm fronds and hang out around the creeks and shady areas throughout the day.  A group of horseback riders passed us along the trail.  We also saw several other groups of hikers heading out on our return route. It was starting to get busy.

The Andreas Creek runs along the trail and through the palm oases.


The trails in Indian Canyons are all well maintained and visibly marked with signs.  The hikes are easy to moderate with more strenuous trails farther out.  You can get a trail guide at the tollbooth that describes all of the trails in the area.  We plan to return to the Canyons to hike a few of the other trails and to explore and photograph Tahquitz Canyon.

Brittlebush are in full bloom at the Indian Canyons April 8th, 2010.

Indian Canyons
For Information or Reservations
Call (760) 323-6018

One response to “Indian Canyons Wildflower Hike @ Palm Springs, CA”

  1. Thank you for the comprehensive report on the wildflowers of the Indian Canyons. I have been publishing a “wildflower watch” and recently have been scouting the “hi desert” of the Morongo Basin. Yesterday, I found Desert Lilies out in Wonder Valley (Iron Age Road)…you can see the images here:
    Kevin Wong
    ps. the has been a great resource for my excursions. Congratulations!