In this episode of The Coachella Valley Art Scene’s Coachella Guide we explore some of our personal favorite places to go that don’t involve food, or drinks, or merchandise…. just nature.

Now, mind you, please do know that this is NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT.  This is really just from us, for you, to enjoy and navigate around our hometown with.  We didn’t get paid to talk about any of these places, so please don’t interpret it that way.  We try to keep it real as possible on The Coachella Valley Art Scene.

Places to Go…

The highlight to your Coachella weekend should not be the concert itself…. it should be your overall experience.  And, your overall experience shouldn’t be spent solely on the Polo Fields.  In fact, in 3 days it’s nearly impossible to see it all, feel it all, do it all – so stay and extra day in town to unwind and explore a bit.  You’ll be so glad you did.

Many people find it hard to chose on location, so we have have chosen our favorite places to go with friends for some spiritual renewal, visual stimulation, and detoxation.

Our Top 5 Picks

We chose these top 5 based on the vibes, visuals and accessibility.  We didn’t want to lead you down any crazy trails in the wild West or take to a place that cost a lot of money to go.  Now mind you, there are sooooooooooooooooooo many places to go exploring here in the desert, these are just the top 5 I take friends to when they come from out of town for a weekend.

#1 Pick: Salvation Mountain

Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain is just about the kitschiest thing I know and love.  I don’t think photos really have the power to give you an accurate perspective on what is really going on here.  It’s a man made mountain!  There is a man made cave.  It’s truly incredible and there really is no way to describe the vibrant colors, eery vibe, bright blue skies, and the all out bad assery.  Google ‘Salvation Mountain’ and figure out how to get there – definitely worth the time.


(find diections through their website)

#2 Pick: Salton Sea

random roadsides along the Salton Sea, CA

Another place I am really fascinated with is the Salton Sea.  It’s a tripped out place.  The Salton Sea is a  huge body of water, one of the biggest on this side of the Mississippi, however… the little communities that live around/next to the Salton Sea seem like the smallest places all of the West.  As you are driving out to Salvation Mountain, make sure to pull over – anywhere that you want – and when you walk out of your car you are guaranteed to find all sorts of photo opps and fascinating and mind blowing objects.  You never know who you will meet at one of your pit stops either.  Couple times I have met people from Italy, the Bay Area, New York….. out in the middle of the desert – so gnarly.  Anyways, my favorite place to visit is a little town called Bombay Beach.  The times I have traveled through someone is always having a yard sale going on.  The photo pictured above is one I took on my IPhone from the last time I went out there.  GlennAnn, who is featured above, had so many goodies and stories to share with me.  She is so raw and real, just like the environment she was raised in.  Salton sea + Bombay Beach = a MUST.


#3 Pick: Slab City

Slab City, CA

Many of you probably have heard of Slab City before as it was featured in the very popular film, Into the Wild.  And for good reason.  I’m so glad a place like this exists in California, let a lone a couple of hours away from the Coachella Valley.  It’s like Burning Man forever!!!  All I know is that Slab City is where you can find me if this whole blog thing doesn’t work out and I just wanna get away from all this government and Internet BS for a couple months. (That’s a picture of me in front of my favorite trailer in Slab City)  All you need is canned food, a nice RV/trailer, few pairs of clothes, and a skill/trade and you are set for life out there.  Plain and simple.  Just the way I like it.


#4 Pick: Painted Canyons

Mecca Hills, CA

And while you are out roaming around the Eastern end of the desert…. make sure to try to squeeze in some time for the Painted Caynons.  They don’t called them ‘painted’ for no reason.  These canyons are breath taking.  The colors are mind blowing, the sky in unbelievable and the vibe is amazing.  I hate trying to describe the way these places make me feel because it’s so hard for me to express something so naturally beautiful and special – know what I mean?  The only way to really know what I am talking about it is get the guts to actually go out there and explore it for yourself.


#5 Pick: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, CA

I am sure most of you have already heard of the Joshua Tree National Park, it’s a very popular California/desert landmark.  And man oh man will it blow your mind.  I require all my friends who are from the city (LA/SF) and out of state to come on a trip up to Joshua Tree with me.  Yes, it’s a requirement!  This place is truly humbling, it makes you step back and really just be in awe of beautiful life and nature is.  But, before I get all sentimental on you, just take a look at the photos I took last time I was there and make sure to look at other people’s photos on the Internet to see what I am talking about.  Right now the weather is nearly PERFECTION!!!  Seriously, Hi-Desert is where it’s at.


#6 Pick: Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Morongo Valley, CA

The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is one of the most underrated places to explore in the entire desert.  I love this place. I actually conducted my 7th grade science project on the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, that’s how much I love it.  What really gets me is the murky waters, the frogs, the owls, the streams of water, the views, the sounds of all the birds, the seclusion, and the smells of all the wildflowers.  The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is on your way up to Joshua Tree, just as you enter the Hi-Desert in Morongo Valley…. a town with so much character.


#7 Pick: Mountain Tops in the Low Desert

Coachella Valley, CA

I love hiking.  Can you tell?  It’s how I spend any free time I get.  There is something so magical about hiking, especially in the desert.  I get such a piece of mind when I just let myself explore in territories I’ve never been.  The Coachella Valley is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails I have been on (and okay, I might be a LITTLE biased because I obviously LOVE the Coachella Valley so much, but whatever!).  What I love most about desert trails is that once you get way up there on the mountain, you can see for miles and miles all around you.  You can hear all sorts of things, the echos from the mountains, the birds, the city below…. one of the perks of being in the desert is that vast and open world.  I always imagine myself being a native Indian when on these hikes and I like imagining the Coachella Valley before development when I look out on to the city below me – I often wish I could just go back to those times, at least time travel for like 2 hours or something.  Anyways, there are about a 1,000 different trails and places to check out, and everyone has their own place they like to go but I’ll just recommend 1 out of the 1,000.  One of my favorite places is the Indian Canyons (photo pictured above that I took a couple months ago).  The Indian Canyons is still owned and maintained by the Native Indians of the land and you can definitely feel and see that for yourself.  You pay a small fee of about $8, which is nothing in comparison to the experience you will embark on.  Ask the kiosk person how to get to the waterfalls.  The waterfalls are where it’s at.

Here is a good link to hiking trails in the Low Desert:

Indian Canyons

38500 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 323-6018

Other cool places:

Whitewater and Desert Hot Springs

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Thank you for reading our Coachella Guide: Places to Go After it’s All Said and Done.

We hope it helped.  Let us know if it did, send us some pictures of your

And if you are a local who would like to recommend some of your favorite places, hit us up!

Sarah at

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