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Coachella Valley by jeep

A new way to see the desert beauty of the Palm Springs area.

Coachella palm tree oasis on the jeep tour.
Coachella palm tree oasis on the jeep tour.

Who would think that parts of the desert are full of water? Especially since the Coachella Valley gets only six to eight inches of rain every year.

But when I took the Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tour outside Palm Springs, I got to see just how plentiful water can be in the desert.

The Coachella Valley is actually a basin where underground water has settled for thousands of years. The springs are considered some of the best water in the world, and 28 oases line the infamous San Andreas Fault.

California has more than 200 earthquakes per week and most rumble right in this basin. While the fault runs over 800 miles long, you can see the fault line here by the lush strip of greenery. Palm trees grow indigenously and their roots go down seven feet deep, showing just how much water exists underground. When the earth moves, water springs up – sometimes in a continual flow, sometimes for only a few hours a day. Coyotes will dig holes in the earth, wait for the water to pool inside, and then drink their fill.

Water sources, however, aren't completely reliable. After an earthquake, for example, the earth may shift and the water will move to a different location.

The Jeep tour passes through a mock-Cahuilla village, similar to what the Native Americans erected along these oases. When the Spanish explorers first came to this region, they saw nothing but barren land.

The Native Americans, on the other hand, found uses for over 200 plants and had almost year-round fresh food due to the mild weather. Because foreigners couldn't see the abundance, they left quickly. Native Americans didn't see pioneers until very late by comparison to the rest of California.

The Cahuilla tribes, in the end, couldn’t stop others from settling in their desert after the Homestead Act of 1862. This government legislation brought single women, ex-slaves and non-citizens who paid $18 for a strip of land. They built humble homes and, if they cultivated the land for five years, they would receive 160 acres for free. The tour passes through a mock-homestead house and a miner’s village.

After the 1890s, the region saw an influx of Scots, Canadians, British, Italians, Germans, Poles, French and Scandinavians. Today, the region continues to be ethnically diverse, but the Cahuilla tribe owns approximately 46% of the land. What’s more, a tribal member must sit on the city councils of each town. The Native Americans are a success story in this region.

The tour ends with a ride through the box canyons. My guide explains that it’s often hard to recognize the canyons after the rains when these canyons flood. Boulders hurl down, the earth collapses and the dirt roads shift or disappear completely. Thankfully, during my tour the weather is dry and I’m taken back to the well-watered golf courses of Palm Springs, where I now understand how it’s possible to have so much water in the desert.

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Coachella palm tree oasis on the jeep tour.
Coachella palm tree oasis on the jeep tour.

Who would think that parts of the desert are full of water? Especially since the Coachella Valley gets only six to eight inches of rain every year.

But when I took the Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tour outside Palm Springs, I got to see just how plentiful water can be in the desert.

The Coachella Valley is actually a basin where underground water has settled for thousands of years. The springs are considered some of the best water in the world, and 28 oases line the infamous San Andreas Fault.

California has more than 200 earthquakes per week and most rumble right in this basin. While the fault runs over 800 miles long, you can see the fault line here by the lush strip of greenery. Palm trees grow indigenously and their roots go down seven feet deep, showing just how much water exists underground. When the earth moves, water springs up – sometimes in a continual flow, sometimes for only a few hours a day. Coyotes will dig holes in the earth, wait for the water to pool inside, and then drink their fill.

Water sources, however, aren't completely reliable. After an earthquake, for example, the earth may shift and the water will move to a different location.

The Jeep tour passes through a mock-Cahuilla village, similar to what the Native Americans erected along these oases. When the Spanish explorers first came to this region, they saw nothing but barren land.

The Native Americans, on the other hand, found uses for over 200 plants and had almost year-round fresh food due to the mild weather. Because foreigners couldn't see the abundance, they left quickly. Native Americans didn't see pioneers until very late by comparison to the rest of California.

The Cahuilla tribes, in the end, couldn’t stop others from settling in their desert after the Homestead Act of 1862. This government legislation brought single women, ex-slaves and non-citizens who paid $18 for a strip of land. They built humble homes and, if they cultivated the land for five years, they would receive 160 acres for free. The tour passes through a mock-homestead house and a miner’s village.

After the 1890s, the region saw an influx of Scots, Canadians, British, Italians, Germans, Poles, French and Scandinavians. Today, the region continues to be ethnically diverse, but the Cahuilla tribe owns approximately 46% of the land. What’s more, a tribal member must sit on the city councils of each town. The Native Americans are a success story in this region.

The tour ends with a ride through the box canyons. My guide explains that it’s often hard to recognize the canyons after the rains when these canyons flood. Boulders hurl down, the earth collapses and the dirt roads shift or disappear completely. Thankfully, during my tour the weather is dry and I’m taken back to the well-watered golf courses of Palm Springs, where I now understand how it’s possible to have so much water in the desert.

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Comments
1

Living in the Coachella Valley for the past 24 years I have yet to take a jeep tour. I have a friend who drives people on tours and will have to give her a call. Non the less, during these 24 years I have taken many photos of the valley which I have posted onto my FB Timeline. Your welcomed to view them and leave a comment or press Like. My FB is: Vilma's Everyday Photos.

We have such a diverse desert for all levels of photographers, and you can't beat the sunsets!!

Oct. 22, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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