Tahquitz Canyon and Falls, Palm Springs, Ca.

Did you know there is a 60 foot seasonal waterfall in Palm Springs? Neither did we until a week ago.

We have lived in the area for two years. But, since one of those years was getting settled and doing home renovations, and the next year was Pam Demi, we still haven’t discovered everything Palm Springs has to offer.

The waterfall is called Tahquitz Falls and it is located in Tahquitz Canyon – a sacred place on the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. The Tribe welcomes the public visitors with valid admission.

Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs
Tahquitz Canyon, view of Palm Springs

The waterfall is seasonal, meaning that it is fed by the snow on Mt. San Jacinto. As long as there is snow on the mountain, the falls are running. We were there on April 18th, 2021, and they were in full force still.

The hike is 1.8 miles total (it is a loop out and back), and the falls are at the mid-point. There is a total gain of 350 ft in elevation, and the terrain is steep and rocky in places. Some steps up and down the trail can be as high as 15 inches. And don’t forget, the canyon is still in the middle of the desert and it can be hot with very little shade. Due to this, the official Tahquitz Canyon website classifies this as a strenuous hike. However, if you are in reasonable physical condition and follow the necessary guidelines you will be able to do it.

Things to remember:

  • Bring at least 32 ounces of water per person. If you aren’t used to a desert climate you can dehydrate quickly. Don’t wait until you are thirsty – just drink along the way. Don’t worry, there are restrooms at the Visitor’s Center at the trail head.
  • Wear proper hiking shoes with closed toes and good grip.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat, or whatever sun protection works best for you. You will need it.
  • Don’t disturb wildlife and assume all snakes are dangerous. We didn’t see any snakes, but apparently it is common enough to warn everyone about! Don’t trust the snakes!

Now, the sign out front says “no swimming”, but we will say we saw plenty of people doing just that once we got to the falls. So, they either seem to be ok with wading in for photos, or it isn’t heavily enforced. Most people were taking a dip, and we don’t blame them since the freshly melted snow makes for very cool waters, and it was hot.

Tahquitz Canyon Falls
Tahquitz Falls in Tahquitz Canyon

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The falls were pretty crowded, so we opted to head out on the trail and found an area a little further down stream to wade in and cool down a bit. We had one of the most ridiculous photo shoots yet as we set up our tripod in the gently flowing river and set the self-timer on the camera. We forgot the shutter remote so Alex had to keep running back and forth across the stream for each photo. Thank goodness we got it after the sixth or seventh try!

Click here to watch the YouTube video of our hike.

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