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Deserts Region Profile

The dramatic desert region fills the southeastern half of California with remarkable parklands to explore, including Death Valley, Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego. Complementing the sun-drenched environment is the oasis-like allure of Palm Springs, three hours northeast of San Diego and offering resort-style getaways complete with golf, tennis, spas and high-end shopping.


MAJOR TAKEAWAYS

  • At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater in Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in the contiguous United States.
  • A short trail about 36 miles/58 kilometers northwest of Ridgecrest leads to Fossil Falls, a surreal, convoluted chasm of shiny, sculpted black lava.
  • Palm Springs is America’s mid-century modern mecca, and from gas stations to City Hall, it’s clear that mod dominates the local landscape.
  • Long considered one of America’s golf capitals, Coachella Valley boasts more golf courses per capita than any place on earth.
  • Shopping is central to Palm Desert pastimes, whether it be in El Paseo boutiques or Backstreet Arts District galleries. 

Counties, Major Cities and Attractions

 

Counties

There are four main counties in the Desert region of California:
  • Imperial County
  • Inyo County
  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County

Major Cities

Rural desert towns have low populations, although cities like Riverside and Palm Springs are densely populated.
  • Borrego Springs
  • Coachella
  • Indian Wells
  • La Quinta 
  • Lone Pine
  • Palm Desert
  • Palm Springs
  • Rancho Mirage
  • Riverside 
  • Twentynine Palms

Major Attractions

The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool creates a sensory feast in the Desert region. 

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: This is not only California’s largest state park, but also the home of amazing springtime wildflowers and dark skies perfect for stargazing
  • BMW Performance Driving School: Take a high-speed driving class and fulfill your racetrack dreams here in the Southern California desert south of Palm Springs
  • Death Valley National Park: The hottest place in California is home to Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level, soaring Telescope Peak, colorful Artist Palette and many more incredible views
  • El Paseo: Discover a multitude of art galleries and delicious restaurants here at Palm Desert’s very own “Rodeo Drive”
  • Joshua Tree National Park: Named and known for the unique “Joshua trees” that grow here, this park is ideal for hiking, off-road jeep adventures and wildflower viewing
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tram: Enjoy breathtaking views of Mount San Jacinto and jagged canyons as you travel 8,516 feet from the desert floor up to Mountain Station, where you can begin hiking or skiing adventures
  • Pappy & Harriet’s: This 1870s frontier town-style movie set is a great family attraction and one of the most legendary indie music venues in the state
  • Salvation Mountain: Over the course of 30 years, Leonard Knight built a colorful attraction in the Sonoran Desert as a way to express his devotion to peace, love and a higher power, proclaiming “God Is Love” in a five-story, 150-foot-wide art project
 

Weather

California’s Desert region is known for warm winters and high summer temperatures. Annual precipitation in the Desert region is under five inches.

Dec-Feb

69°F/21°C
High
44°F/7°C
Low

MAR-MAY

93°F/34°C
High
53°F/12°C
Low

JUN-AUG

107°F/42°C
High
71°F/22°C
Low

SEP-NOV

100°F/38°C
High
62°F/17°C
Low

California Welcome Centers

The Desert region has two California Welcome Centers:

 

Related Deserts Images & Video