Ultimate Oasis

Hiking Victor Loop in the Agua Caliente Reservation Palm Canyon

Water is life in the desert, and nowhere does the desert come to life more dramatically than in Palm Canyon in the Agua Caliente Reservation’s Indian Canyons. Here a walk on the 2.9-mile Victor Loop takes you through the world’s largest California fan palm oasis in the heart of a place the Cahuilla have called home for thousands of years.

Victor Loop begins at the trailhead for Palm Canyon Trail just behind the trading post, which sells maps, books, and refreshments. You will come across a fork almost immediately. Turn right to descend into Palm Canyon. Follow the trail alongside Palm Canyon Creek under the shade of the California fan palms. It’s hard to miss the local granite spiny lizards and geckos cooling down in the shade or scurrying across the trail. California tree frogs can also be seen swimming in the water.

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After a mile you’ll come across a small trail junction. Follow the sign for Victor Trail and head left. This leg of the trail ascends 250 feet to the canyon’s ridgeline to give you a bird’s-eye view of the oasis. Over the next mile and a half you’ll traverse ups and downs, and you may catch a glimpse of a rattlesnake. From here follow the signs directing you back to the trading post. The final quarter-mile of the trail drops you back down beside palm trees and crosses the creek to perfectly bookend this desert adventure.

From the I-10, take the exit for CA-111 toward Palm Springs. Continue straight onto N. Palm Canyon Dr. After 3 miles make a slight right onto S. Palm Canyon Dr. and continue into the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, where you will pay an entry fee that covers parking and trail access. S. Palm Canyon Dr. ends at the trading post, where you can park for the hike. No dogs.

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