Headed to Palm Springs and looking for information on the Andreas Canyon trail? You’ve come to the right place! Here I’m sharing everything you need to know before hiking this oasis in the middle of the desert — when to go, cost, trail difficulty, etc. Literally everything!
Magnificent California fan palms. Secluded spring-fed waterfalls. Shady streams to dip your toes into. The views! Andreas Canyon is nothing short of a lush oasis desert paradise. And it’s only a few miles south of Palm Springs. Aka you NEED to add hiking the Andreas Canyon trail to your Palm Springs weekend itinerary ASAP. You just MUST!
Think of Palm Springs. There’s mid-century modern architecture with colorful doors. Wild pool parties. Nearby Joshua Tree National Park. But fan palms and unique rock formations?! — what the actual F? And it’s all natural, with over 150 species of plant life! There’s honestly so much vegetation growing along the stream you won’t believe you’re in the desert!
Of course I added the Andreas Canyon hike into our Palm Springs itinerary! How could I not?! The verdict — absolutely amazing! It kinda felt like we were in the middle of the jungle, except with those crazy skirted palm trees instead of tropical monstaras and other leafy greens. A nearly pristine desert-scape you won’t wanna miss. It’s really like nowhere else in the world!
Don’t have time for a day trip to Joshua Tree but still wanna get your nature fix? Andreas Canyon is a great choice! It is the easiest and shortest hike in Indian Canyons after all — so it won’t take all day! More time for pizza at Birba and cocktails by the pool (which is obviously the best way to finish any day in Palm Springs).
So let’s get to it — all the info you need to hike through the world’s second largest California Fan Palm oasis!
- Length of Andreas Canyon trail: 1 mile
- Difficulty Rating: Easy
- Hiking Time: 30-40 minutes (we took longer for photos and hanging out at the stream)
- Route Type: Loop
- Elevation Gain: 175 feet
When to Go:
The short answer: October – May in the early AM
The long answer: 100% plan to hike the Andreas Canyon trail in the “cooler” months from late October to early May. It’ll just be too hot any other time of year. Yes, “cooler” is in quotes because it never actually gets chilly in the desert sun, just less hot than other times of year.
Remember — this is the desert we’re talking about! The summer months are downright sweltering, and even April, May, September, and October can easily see temps over 90°F! The good news is that the trail is partly shaded, so you can find some respite from the sun if you need it!
Skip the summer — it’s just way too hot. Plus, rattlesnakes are more active in the warmer months of the year, sooooo another reason to stick to the cooler months. Regardless, always be alert and watch your step (we saw no snakes in March when we hiked Andreas Canyon, thank goodness)!
No matter the time of year, I definitely recommend going as early in the morning as you can. The sun heats up quickly in these parts! If we were to do it again, I would get there when they opened at 8am. We arrived at the Andreas Canyon trailhead around 9:30am or so, and it was already super hot (although thankfully not terribly crowded just yet). However, when we left (maybe around 11ish or so), the line was crazy long just to enter and pay at the toll booth entrance!
If you visit in the spring, you may just get lucky with some desert wildflowers! There’s desert lavender, little gold poppies, Canterbury bells, fiddlenecks, and more. We saw some blooms and I absolutely loved it! Including bright pink cactus flowers — such a nice contrast to the otherwise stark desert.
Depending on the time of year, Indian Canyons (including the Andreas Canyon trail) has specific opening hours due to the intense heat. They’re closed most days in the summer, only open Friday and weekend days. Check their official website for the most recent updates.
Opening hours are as follows:
- Sept. 1 – July 4: daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Last vehicle in at 4 p.m.)
- July 5 – Aug. 31: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (open only Friday, Saturday, Sunday – Last vehicle in at 4 p.m.)
Where is Andreas Canyon?
As noted above, Andreas Canyon is located within Indian Canyons Nature Preserve in Palm Springs, California. It’s an easy 15 minute drive from downtown Palm Springs, so there’s really no excuse not to find time for it! Plop Indian Canyons into your GPS and you’re good to go!
Once you pass the Indian Canyons entrance kiosk, you’ll find signs leading you directly to the Andreas Canyon trailhead and parking area. Parking is included in the cost of admission (more on that below). We were surprised that the parking area was almost full by 9:30am; another reason to get there early!
I guess you could technically hike Andreas Canyon as a day trip from other spots in Southern California, but it’ll be a long day! It’s about 2 hours each way from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County. But just remember — traffic in SoCal is a beast, so you should tack on extra driving time, especially if you’re coming on the weekend! Leave as early as possible, as you’ll wanna be at the Andreas Canyon trailhead in the morning before the intense heat of the day starts.
History Behind Indian Canyons and Respecting the Andreas Canyon Trail
You probably didn’t know this (and neither did I!), but Indian Canyons is actually owned and operated by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. They’ve lived (and thrived!) here for thousands upon thousands of years → it’s their ancestral home.
History buffs will love this place — you can even still see some remnants of life here, like the bedrock mortars and metates used hundreds of years ago to prepare food. We didn’t realize this until after the fact, so we didn’t pay close enough attention to see them. I’ve heard they can be seen on the trail though, so look around!
The entire area of Indian Canyons is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (through NPS), meaning it’s deemed worthy of preservation. There’s lots of historical significance, so lots of researchers tend to visit!
So remember, you’re hiking on sacred land → respect the area and do your part to keep it as pristine as possible. 🙂
NO fires, NO smoking, NO alcoholic beverages, NO drones, NO pets, NO rock climbing, and NO loud music or noise. Only hike on designated trails and only park in designated areas. NEVER disturb or deface natural or cultural objects, and NEVER remove any objects from the land. This is not the place for a party (head to the pool at The Ace for that).
Considering the Andreas Canyon trail is located on indiginous land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, there’s a charge to get in and hike. As there should be — this land isn’t ours!
Cost: $9 entrance fee per adult
Note that this cost is per adult, NOT per car. So it doesn’t really matter if you carpool. And plan to leave your furry friend at home; they’re not allowed in (and yes, they’re super strict about this).
Considering there’s other hiking trails and canyons within Indian Canyons Nature Preserve, we felt $9 per person was more than fair! It costs more for a poolside margarita almost everywhere you go in Palm Springs!
Admission is for all the hikes in the entire Indian Canyons, so if you want, feel free to do additional hikes! We just did the Andreas Canyon hike, but the others are all included in your $9 fee!
Hiking the Andreas Canyon Trail
Finally, time to gush about the actual Andreas Canyon hike! Can you tell we just loved it?! Haha.
Imagine walking through majestic groves of stately California Fan Palms and traveling along the picturesque Andreas Creek. With the sound of birds in the air and a cool breeze in the otherwise sticky desert. All in 90 minutes or less. Low effort, high reward (yassss). That’s what I call a major bang for your buck. And it was just as magical as it seems. 🙂
Half of the hike you’ll wander throughout the canyon oasis (where all the fan palm trees are), while the other half you’ll get a nice view of the canyon from above. As you hike, you’ll notice unique looking rock formations on one side, and the California Fan Palms on the other. It’s the perfect combination of shade (under the trees) and hot desert sun. The trail is fairly flat, but still a good amount of steps and uneven ground, so you’ll wanna wear appropriate footwear.
Despite it being pretty short (roughly one mile round trip), we felt it was enough to raise our heart rate and increase our appetite for brunch. Andreas Canyon is actually the shortest hike within Indian Canyons, but considering it was already at least in the mid 80’s, we were satisfied with our choice! Took us about an hour and a half or so (a little less, a little longer), but we stopped to hang out along the creek for a while and explored quite a bit.
And I swear, the entire trail looks like it could be straight out of a movie — I’m not even joking (the pictures don’t do it justice at all!). We saw cute little lizards scurrying around on the rocks and grasses, and a few birds soaring through the skies. There were lots of desert plants, like cacti blooming with flowers, and once we got too hot, we dipped our toes in the creek!
Don’t forget to look out for rock mortars used for food preparation by the native Indians along the trail!
Other Hikes in Indian Canyons
As mentioned earlier, Andreas Canyon is just one of the few canyons in Indian Canyons! Yes, there’s more! All included with your $9 cost of admission (I told ya you could explore all day!). There’s also Murray Canyon and Palm Canyon (the world’s #1 largest California Fan Palm oasis; Andreas Canyon is #2). We were too hot and tired to even think about anything other than the pool at this point.
BUT if you’ve still got the energy (and it isn’t 95° out), check out some other hikes. Do note that not all the trails have that famous Fan Palm, so if that’s what you came here to see, do your homework ahead of time (or just stick with the Andreas Canyon hike).
- Palm Canyon Trail: This canyon is waaaaay longer (at roughly 15 miles one way, continuing all the way up to Highway 74), but most hikers turn around at the East Fork Junction. This makes the hike an easy two miles out and back with 250 feet of elevation gain. Lots of shorter hikes start from Palm Canyon (like one with cholla cactus like we saw in Joshua Tree!).
- Murray Canyon Trail: A bit longer at 4 miles (out and back), this hike heads southwest with approximately 600 feet of gain, with views of another desert oasis and even a small waterfall.
- East Fork Trail: One of the longer hikes in the preserve, at approximately six-miles out-and-back (with about 750 feet of elevation gain). There are several loop options here as well, so look at the map if you’d prefer different views on your way out.
Safety in the Desert (plus what to bring and wear)
The hike isn’t terribly long, so I wouldn’t say you need too much. However, you will wanna take the essentials and come prepared for the heat.
- Bring along more water than you think you’ll need. The reservation recommends at least 16 ounces of water per mile!
- Although the Andreas Canyon hike is relatively flat, you’ll be happiest in tennis shoes. I wore sandals with a strap on the back and was fine, but my husband definitely had to help me in a few instances.
- Never hike alone — bring a friend!
- Protect yourself from the sun. Slather on that sunscreen, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Dress in layers, but understand it’ll most likely be almost unbearably hot if you start the hike any later than 10am.
- Assume all snakes are dangerous. Pay attention to where you step and where you place your hands (always look beforehand). Do not harm or handle snakes, just let the snake go on its way.
Have I convinced you to hike the Andreas Canyon trail yet?! I can’t wait to head back and do other hikes in Indian Canyons! Happy Palm Springs planning!