Print this free Palm Springs – Joshua Tree map to main roads, back
roads, and best of all - scenic roads in this unique region combining
an "only in California" adult playground with a huge natural playground
for jackrabbits, quail and coyote. The town and the national park
both have palm trees and cacti but they are as uniquely different as
night and day – the perfect contrast for a scenic driving tour.
Palm Springs has all the amenities and many attractions for visitors as
shown on the map. Joshua Tree National Park has good roads, many
trails and plenty of the namesake trees. The map shows the
different options for accessing the huge park. Once you’ve
explored Palm Springs and the surrounding towns, head to Highway 74
(see map) for a gorgeous drive in the mountains.
SCENIC DRIVES: It is hard to find a place in Palm Springs that
isn’t scenic if you enjoy blue skies, palm trees, desert light and
mountain peaks. People come for the resorts, the golf and the desert
lifestyle all year round but summers are really hot so plan ahead. The
town is a great location for exploring the whole region – all the
amenities and luxuries of resort community but only a short hop to
desert wilderness and wildlife.
The natural setting is not far from town, at nearby Joshua Tree
National Park where you can hike or bike trails, rock climb the rounded
piles of boulders strewn across the desert, ride horses or just drive
the roads to see the "forests" of Joshua trees. A surprising
amount of plant and animal life thrives here and much more is visible
at the rare oases within the park. Get a free map at the Visitor
In the 1930’s, movie stars created the early glamorous image of Palm
Springs as a place to escape and party. Today, low-rise buildings
keep the city from feeling too commercial even though the area has
grown tremendously as a popular destination.
Start at Moorten Botanical Garden so you can identify the wide array of
rugged desert plants you’ll be seeing during your visit to the
area. Head north and spent time in downtown Palm Springs on Palm
Canyon Dr. The area is packed with restaurants, boutiques and
galleries. Don’t miss the centrally located Desert Museum near
Tahquitz Canyon Way for regional culture, art and natural history
Go north to Tramway Road and take a left. Cool off while riding
to the crest of San Jacinto Mountains for breathtaking views, a hike, a
meal or just the air.
Return to 111 and watch for the wind farms along the way. At
I-10, go west to Highway 62 towards Morongo Canyon. Stop at the
Reserve or continue towards the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park
at Park Blvd (the first of three park entrances on the northern
border). Make certain you have plenty of water and proper
clothing for the desert conditions. A detailed map and
description of the park is included in our National Parks section.
The drive through the park offers many close-up views of the namesake
trees that support an amazing amount of insect and bird life,
especially during spring bloom. Short hiking trails to rock
formations and historic sites are well signed and mapped. Rock
climbers can be spotted all over the park but many formations may be
climbed by any fit hiker.
Exit the park at the south and return on I-10 to Indio where you will
head south to 111. A stop at Shields Date Gardens shop will
revive you (try a date milkshake, really) before continuing to The
Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park (a left at Portola).
SIDETRIP: For a windy and beautiful drive along the "other" side
of San Jacinto Mountains, take Highway 74 and turn on to the "Palms to
Pines" National Scenic Byway leading to tiny Idyllwild and eventually
connecting to I-10 at Banning.
Return to Palm Springs via 111 as it joins Palm Canyon Dr.
SIDETRIP: Take a left at the above intersection and go south to
the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation where a small fee allows you to
visit Palm Canyon, a short walk into a real palm oasis, complete with a
stream, tall palms, birds, jackrabbits and a host of creatures thriving
amid barren rock expanses.