Discover lush oases in Arizona and California
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Two miles from the visitor center, a moderate 3-mile round-trip hike leads to Borrego Palm Canyon, an outstanding oasis with a running stream and huge boulders. A recent flood washed out part of the trail to Borrego Palm Canyon, but restoration is in progress―call for conditions. There’s also a cluster of oases in the park’s southern end near Mountain Palm Springs Campground. From State 79 north of Santa Ysabel, go east on County Rd. S2, then east again on County Rd. S22, and then left at the stop sign to reach the visitor center; www.anzaborrego.statepark.org or 760/767-4205.
Coachella Valley Preserve
Several groves are accessible from the visitor center. Combine the McCallum and Moon Country Trails for a moderate to strenuous 4-mile round-trip that visits a lush grove and more barren desert terrain. A more rugged 6-mile round-trip leads to the remote Pushawalla Palms. From I-10, exit at Ramon Rd., then take a left onto Thousand Palms Canyon Rd. and continue 2 miles to the turnoff for the visitor center on the left; www.cnlm.org or 760/343-1234.
Dos Palmas Preserve
A huge, remote grove is set in a barren alkali flat. The San Andreas Palms trail visits the most accessible grove via an easy 0.5-mile walk from parking, while the most abundant oases are a longer walk beyond the main gate. From State 111, turn onto Parkside Dr., opposite the entrance to Salton Sea State Recreation Area. Cross railroad tracks, continue 2 miles to the T intersection, and go right on Desert Aire. Follow the road until it ends, turn left, and follow signs for Dos Palmas; www.cnlm.org or 760/343-1234.
With the most spectacular and accessible of the groves, this area on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian land has three canyons to hike and a trading post. $6. At the south end of South Palm Canyon Dr. in Palm Springs; 800/790-3398 or 760/325-3400.
Hassayampa River Preserve
The palms here were likely planted during stagecoach days but now are part of a riparian forest, growing directly up through cottonwoods in places. They’re most abundant along springs that feed Palm Lake. 8–5 Wed–Sun; $5 donation requested. 3 miles southeast of Wickenburg near mile marker 114 on U.S. 60; 928/684-2772.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
Contains possibly the only native palm grove in Arizona. Once at the trailhead, it’s only about 0.5 mile to a viewing point; it’s a steep, rocky, and dangerous scramble to the grove. From Quartzsite, take U.S. 95 south 18 miles to signed turn at mile marker 85, then follow a 7-mile unpaved road to the trailhead; http://southwest.fws.gov or 928/783-7861.