Tahquitz Canyon’s crystalline stream and lush stands of desert lavender, honey mesquite, and leafy sycamores will change how you think about the desert. You might grumble at the $12.50 entrance fee, but fork it over—this hike is worth it. Its 2.1-mile loop trail offers an easy day hike with a big bonus: The canyon’s granite and metamorphic walls harbor a 60-foot waterfall that runs with remarkable gusto after winter rains. Pay your entrance fee inside the visitor center, then walk out the back door and into the rock-studded canyon. Immediately you’ll be awed by quartz-laden boulders and red cliffs stained with desert varnish. Look closely for 1,000-year-old Cahuilla Indian rock art and bedrock mortars. The path traverses the canyon’s north side, crossing footbridges over crystalline Tahquitz Creek, then returns on the south side.
Even though you know it’s coming, Tahquitz Falls appears like a revelation—a shower of white water plummeting over polished granite. If you paid attention in Film 101 class, you’ll recognize this shimmering cataract from the 1937 Frank Capra classic Lost Horizon.
Drive south on South Palm Canyon Dr. and turn right on Mesquite Ave. Drive 0.5 mile to the Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center. No dogs.