Palm Springs: Nature Walk in Andreas Canyon

Ranger Raven

Although I spend a lot of time in nature, I rarely have the pleasure of getting know every rock and leaf in my path.  My attention is easily drawn to the landscape of majestic mountains or infinite ocean.  But on my latest outdoor adventure trip with Visit Palm Springs, I learned you don’t have to climb the next highest summit to stop and smell the wild yucca blooms.  All you need is a nature walk with Ranger Raven.

After a relaxing horseback ride through Murray Canyon, we met Ranger Raven for a guided nature walk along the Andreas Canyon Trail.

Hundreds of years ago, the ancestors of the Cahuilla Indians thrived in this lush desert oasis, surviving extreme temperatures and making use of every natural resource.  Ranger Raven, a respected medicine man of the Apache tribe, showed us natural remedies used by the Indians to treat everything from the common cold to bad breath.  He also told us the origin story of the stink bug, which will forever make my heart ache every time I come across one.

Andreas Creek
Ranger Raven
These boots were made for nature walkin’.

On the 1-mile loop, Ranger Raven led us under the shade of skirted palm trees and across the Andreas Creek.  That’s where I met my favorite specimen, the California Red Barrel Cactus.  Believe it or not, this cactus has starred in countless old western movies.  The tired traveler slices off the top of the barrel like a melon to find a refreshing drink of water inside.

Red Barrel Cactus

In real life, the inside of this cactus is juicy, but very pulpy, and the water is far too alkaline to drink.  Why is this prickly pretender my favorite?  The Cahuilla Indians used it as a slow cooker by placing hot stones inside with food and replacing the lid.  I think that’s pretty neat.

View of Indian Canyons

I told Ranger Raven about my desire to learn more about plants and things.  He said, “How do you find the secrets under the rock?  See the land as the Indians saw it.”  I suppose when you depend on the land for survival, you must get to know it very intimately.

At the end of our nature walk, I crawled into a house made of palm fronds and looked up at the sky through an opening in the roof.  As I venture into 2014, I shall try to see the land as the Indians saw it, and perhaps get a little closer to finding the secrets nature holds for me.  I am grateful to Ranger Raven for guiding me in the right direction.

Replica of a Cahuilla Hut


Special thanks to Ranger Raven for sharing your passion for nature and to Visit Palm Springs for taking me on another amazing adventure!

Andreas Canyon Trail

  • Highly Recommended: Ranger led hikes are available to the public Friday through Sunday at 10AM and 1PM!  Go to to check the schedule.
  • Trailhead Parking:  Admission fee is charged to enter Agua Caliente Indian Reservation.  Go to to view current fees.
  • Road Trip: Approx. 2 hours from downtown Los Angeles
  • Trail Distance: 1-mi round trip
  • Fitness Level: Easy, good for families and first dates
  • What to Bring: Bring lots of water and a hat, especially if the weather is hot

Get Directions

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