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November 29, 2016
Tahquitz Canyon is one of the most visited canyons in Palm Springs. Located in the shadow of the San Jacinto mountains on the ancestral lands of the Cahuilla band of the Agua Caliente Indians, Tahquitz Canyon has a rich and culturally significant history. There are not many places in the world where you can see a waterfall in the desert, which is only one of several reasons Tahquitz Canyon is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Behind the Name: The Legend of Tahquitz
Tahquitz Canyon gets its name from the creation story of the Cahuilla Indians who have inhabited the Palm Springs area for over 2000 years. Tahquitz was the first shaman who was created by the creator of the world, Mukat. Initially Tahquitz used his power to benefit all people and shared his power with all shamans to do good, becoming their guardian spirit. Over time, Tahquitz became selfish with his power and began to hurt the Cahuilla people. Tahquitz was then exiled to the canyon which today is known as Tahquitz canyon. Tahquitz is considered immortal and lives even today in a secluded cave high up the canyon formed by the San Jacinto Mountains. Earthquake activity, landslides and rumblings in the canyon are said to be caused by Tahquitz as he moves around the canyon. If you see a large green light in the canyon at night, you caught a glimpse of Tahquitz himself. Legend has it that Tahquitz will steal your soul if you venture too far into his canyon at night.
The Trail & Hiking Tips
Your adventure on the Tahquitz Canyon trail begins at the Tahquitz Canyon visitor center located on W. Mesquite Ave at the southern edge of downtown Palm Springs. The Tahquitz Canyon trail is a short 2-mile loop leading to the falls and then back to the visitor center. It is a relatively easy trail with a 300 foot elevation gain but there is some steep, rocky terrain with quite a few steps carved from the rock to traverse in both directions, some as high as 15 inches. There is an admission charge for the trail payable at the visitor center, $12.50 for adults, $6 for children 12 yo and under, and free admission for US Military with ID.
The trail is open daily from October through June from 7:30 am until 5:00 pm. The latest time to begin the trail is 3:30 pm. During the months of July through September, the trail is only open of Friday through Sunday. A ranger-led interpretive hike pointing out the history, flora and fauna of the area departs the visitor center at 8 am, 10 am, noon and 2 pm. Reservations can be made for the ranger tour by calling 760-416-7044.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for you Tahquitz Canyon trek. The canyon has very little shade so protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and appropriate headgear. There is no water along the trail so be sure to have plenty in your day pack. With the rocky terrain, wear appropriate hiking boots or sneaker, flip-flops and sandals will not serve you well and you may be denied entrance to the trail. Also be certain to dress appropriately for current weather conditions.
Photo Credit: Palm Springs Life