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Indian Canyons - ancient culture preserved in the low desert

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Palm Springs lovers long ago discovered the several beautifully preserved Indian Canyons. Centuries ago the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians settled in the Coachella Valley and created an environment of farming, basket weaving and planting vegetables, especially corn. Stretching through Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz and Chino Canyons, the Indians thrived while learning to use the desert landscape to benefit their lifestyle.

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Hard to imagine, but the area had plenty of water, coming from several natural springs. They also enjoyed animals and plant life to sustain their community. The tribe lived peacefully until in 1876 when the U. S. Government split the land deeding only 32,000 acres to the Indians and gave the California Railroad a large section to build the railroad. Approximately 6,700 acres of Indian land is located within Palm Springs city limits, creating Indian lease land. Presently the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is composed of several smaller bands living in Coachella Valley.

Nowadays, Palm Springs and its canyons are known as an oasis of peace and creativity, a sanctuary of desert wild life with Palm Canyon being the world’s largest California Palm Oasis. Even though the City has grown and enjoyed a rejuvenation of building improvements and a general modernization of the area, it has kept the quaintness and beauty of ancient times.

With its remarkably easy access, located just minutes from downtown Palm Springs, the hiking options are plentiful with scenic foot paths winding through the canyons. You can enjoy a picnic by a stream, meditate, watch the birds, or have the opportunity to shoot wonderful photos. Rock formations and desert landscapes, mostly comprised of its indigenous flora and fauna, includes the popular California Fan Palm. Horseback riding is lovely during the cooler months of the year and is available for a reasonable price at the Smoke Tree Stables.

If you decide to hike through the canyons make sure you bring an ample supply of water, since there is none available except for purchase at the Trading Post. Use a map and compass when hiking in the back country, preferably with a friend. You’ll be advised that once your water is gone, turn around and head back. Most of all do not forget that you are in the desert and need protection from the sun. Last but not least wear boots and be aware of snakes. Pay attention, let the snake go its way, and your experience will be unforgettable and spiritually refreshing.

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