The Magic of Telluride in Winter

Every winter Telluride reminds us why it is one of the top skiing destinations in North America. The snowcapped San Juan Mountains provide the views. Downtown Telluride supplies the atmosphere. And travelers bring the fun. Whether you’re in search of a challenging double black diamond run or that perfect Bourbon cocktail, Telluride welcomes all and meets every expectation of charm, beauty, and daring winter sports.

Mountain Backdrop Snapshot

Photo: Chris Hunkeler

The skiers in your family will be delighted by the many options available for every skiing level. Beginners can get lots of practice and even take in some of the fantastic views you wouldn’t expect for a green run. Newbies can ride to the top in some places and yet enjoy a comfortable, manageable ski trail to the bottom.

Intermediate skiers will want to take advantage of every chute, bowl, and run within their skill wheelhouse. Moguls, glades, and bump runs dot the map, giving intermediates plenty of choices. The real advantage for all skiers at Telluride Ski Resort is the speed of the lifts, quality of the ski trails, and the sheer number of options for skiing. If you find one area a little crowded, there are bound to be some trails that need some attention.

“I can’t think of a mountain that has the sheer variety and quality of skiing at every level that Telluride offers.”

One thing to be aware of on fresh powder days: if there’s any reason for the locals to be on the mountain, don’t expect shops to be open for their usual hours. The locals live in Telluride for a reason. Many of them came to Telluride on vacation, fell in love with the area, and just had to move there. So when there’s fresh powder just calling out to the skier (or snowboarder!) in you, the locals will try to beat you to the punch.

“It’s a well-known fact that Telluride Ski Resort boasts some of the steepest, deepest and most diverse terrain of any ski resort in North America,” according to Olympian Gus Kenworthy, a Telluride local.

Snow Sports You Might Not Have Tried

When you come to Telluride, keep an open mind to try new things. It’s very likely that there is some kind of snow activity you’ve never tried, and Telluride is just the place to experience it. Here are some suggestions:

Fat Tire Bicycle Rides

Bicycling is not just for warm weather anymore! Bundle up and hop on for a casual ride on the Valley Floor, or seek out a more difficult trail for some real exercise.

Ice Climbing

Probably not for the faint of heart, ice climbing presents a challenge to climbers of all skill levels. A local guide might be the best help you can find to identify where you want to climb and how to approach each climb. Bridal Veil Falls has been one of the most sought after ice climbing achievements in the U.S. Before you go, get the recommended gear (listen to the experts), check the ice conditions, and follow the rules for access and method.



Several outfitters in Telluride will rent out their snowmobiles for your pleasure riding. If you sign up with a guide, you can get access to ghost towns, backcountry trails, and hot springs. Some tours even include lunch. Dress warm, don’t forget your ski mask and goggles, and get out there!


Heli skiing

Untapped, untrodden alpine bowls sound lovely to any skier or snowboarder. Heli skiing was developed from the idea that there are places ski lifts can’t reach, but why should that stop you? Some of the best chutes and runs are in the backcountry, only accessible to heli skiers. Contact Telluride Helitrax, the high altitude powder specialists, for the ultimate skiing adventure.

In Telluride, it’s easy to become enraptured by the picturesque beauty around you. You might spend all day skiing and forget there’s a town at the bottom. Downtown Telluride is a quaint community with lots to offer. You’ll find art, shopping, dining, bars, and plenty of reasons to stroll downtown. The ski resort may beckon you to come to Telluride. But the people and charm of this small town will make you stay. And maybe you’ll be smitten, just like the locals.

Where To Stay

Franz Klammer Lodge is a luxurious ski resort located among the towering San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Colorado. The mountain-side resort, named after Franz Klammer, a legendary skier, offers guests exceptional accommodations and service just steps away from the alpine slopes of one of the best ski destinations in North America. In addition to all the great skiing, guests also enjoy access to a full service bar and club room, rejuvenating spa, and a 24-hour fitness center.

Skiing in Whistler, BC

Whistler, British Columbia, can be summed up in two words: ski country! This is the place where the ski season is long, the powder is fresh, and skiers unite to blaze trails all over Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. With over 8,100 acres of beautiful skiable terrain, Whistler Blackcomb boasts the claim of largest ski resort in North America. Skiers and snowboarders alike love to take advantage of the 16 alpine bowls, 3 glaciers, and over 200 ski trails.

“Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are a skier’s dream destination, the ultimate in big mountain experiences”.

Skiers have been coming from all over the world to Whistler since 1966. The resort has been the main attraction for the past 50 years. In 2010, when Vancouver, British Columbia, hosted the Winter Olympic Games, officials named Whistler the Host Mountain Resort. International athletes flocked to this little resort town to showcase their talents in hopes of a gold medal. The Whistler Mountain Inukshuk, a symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics, stands tall as one of the many reminders of the snow sports competition, but also a reminder of the Inuit peoples who have lived there for centuries.

Visitors to Whistler are welcomed by vistas not seen elsewhere. By taking the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, visitors can experience the wide horizon views of both peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. This record-setting gondola takes its passengers across a wide ravine, a journey lasting 11 minutes. Besides skiers and snow below, everyone is treated to the incredible beauty of glaciers, rainforests, and mountains.

Skiing in Telluride

What’s New

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is just one example of what the resort has done over the years to keep expanding and improving. Here’s just a smattering of what’s new at Whistler Blackcomb this year:

  • Upgrades to the grooming fleets including the new model 600 Pisten Bully Polar piste grooming cat
  • $2.4 million invested in learning areas for new skiers
  • Ollie’s Grilled Cheese stand will serve gourmet cheese sandwiches at Olympic Station
  • Expanded patios at the Roundhouse Lodge and Garibaldi Lift Co.

“The resort’s ski area is one of the largest in the world, with some 8,000 acres of pistes and 1,610m of vertical. Running from mid-November until May, its season is long and snow-sure, with an incredibly reliable average snowfall of 12m.”

There’s a reason that this little corner of Canada welcomes so many visitors every year. Not only does Whistler have incredible skiing and snowboarding, but the whole resort was designed with visitors in mind. From the lovely walkways, restaurants, and gondolas, to the brilliant Whistler Village with all its shops, cafes, and pedestrian areas, it’s no wonder why tourists keep returning year after year.

One advantage Whistler has is its weather. With snow you can count on every season, outdoor enthusiasts delight to try out some of the more extreme snow sports. Some are brave enough to jump out of helicopters for some heli-skiing. Others will mount a snowmobile and take advantage of the tour guide’s expertise, exploring backcountry trails and old growth forests.

Dog sledding is a bit like stepping back in time—before there were snowmobiles. This sport is still hugely popular in the north. As one site says, it is “a uniquely Canadian way” to travel through the arctic forests. Arctic sled dogs are specially bred, and require a certain quality to handle the freezing temperatures and work as a team.

Fun in the snow also includes snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice skating. But for the really daring, there’s also ice climbing (ever climbed a glacier before?) and winter bungee jumping. Truly you are only limited by your imagination in this magical ski land. Want to fly over the skiers and forest below? There’s winter ziplining.

Want to see 360 degree views, with the sunset hitting the peaks at just the right angle? Hop on board the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. How about a breakfast feast before hitting the fresh powder before anyone else? The Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast has you covered. It’s as if someone thought of everything.


Even non-skiers find plenty to content themselves with in Whistler. Whether shopping, participating in events, visiting museums, scouting out the nightlife, or determining their favorite restaurants, visitors never run out of things to do in Whistler. And after all the day’s activities are over, there’s always après—the special “after” time when everyone hangs out at the pub, takes in the fire and ice show, or finds a chic nightspot for dancing and drinking. Ski country is not just for skiers anymore!

Where to Stay

Whistler Resorts is a collection of 16 condominium properties in Whistler, Canada, a charming village widely regarded as one of the world’s best skiing destinations. Among the 16 properties, you’ll find everything from studio units to four-bedroom condominiums ideally located near Whistler’s fantastic shops and restaurants. Whistler, which sits at the base of the scenic Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, offers travelers world-class skiing, hiking, and mountain biking and is the perfect location for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. Book your next Whistler vacation at Whistler Resorts and see for yourself what makes this Canadian mountain town special.

Day of the Dead Celebration

Mexico celebrates Halloween but the holiday, known as the Day of the Dead, is much bigger than America’s version of Halloween. It’s also more important to their culture. And Oaxaca is the center of the celebration in Mexico.


Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a celebration of the dead, with religious roots that go back to the Aztecs. The holiday is not really a somber occasion, as you might think of people mourning or remembering their loved ones. It’s more of a joyous fiesta, with lots of flowers, sand art, food, and costumes.

“Originally an indigenous holiday celebrated by the Aztecs and other Meso-Americans thousands of years ago, the newly-arrived Spanish (after failing to eradicate it altogether) moved the holiday to coincide with All Saint’s Day (November 1st) and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd) and tried their best to inject some Catholic influence.”

Once again, here’s a huge Mexican holiday that can be traced back to pre-Hispanic origins. The Aztec ancient festival was a dedication to a goddess of the dead. When the Spaniards arrived, they added the Aztec festivities to the Christian holidays, forming a mixture of beliefs and traditions. The end result is a modern day celebration, which means big fun for tourists and locals alike.

The first day, November 1, is known as Día de Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is dedicated to children who have died. The second day, November 2, is Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead). But really the whole celebration is known as the Day of the Dead.

If you come to Oaxaca for this celebration, you will be treated to decorations and traditions you won’t see in other parts of Mexico or any other time of the year. Ofrendas (altars) are built as a sort of invitation to the dead spirits, with an arch that acts like a doorway or veil between the living and the dead. Family members will build an altar to help the spirit find its way home. Each altar is dedicated to a specific person or group of people. In fact, altars should not be dedicated to the dead in general, because that is an open invitation to any spirit, good or evil.

The arch can be made of sugar cane stalks, but other materials are used, too. Marigolds (cempasúchil) are the traditional flower for this holiday. Marigolds and skulls adorn the arch, which stands over a table covered with other symbolic items. In the center of the table is probably the most important part: a photo of the dead person. Without this, there’s no telling who the altar is dedicated to. A glass of water is an interesting element. Water is necessary because it is believed when the spirit returns, it will be thirsty. Fruit, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls), and other food are placed on the altar in between the flowers, candles, and copal (tree resin) incense. Papel picado (literally cut paper; colored tissue paper, but can be plastic sheets nowadays) is hung around the edges of the table.

“Many of the Day of the Dead altars you’ll see in Oaxaca are works of art. Schools and social organizations hold contests for the best altars and some of them are astonishingly intricate and beautiful.”

You’ll want to wander the streets and see as many different altars as possible. While wandering different areas of the city, especially Calle Alcalá, you will likely encounter a comparsas (parade). The procession, made up of skeleton-costumed dancers, may be spontaneous or planned. Everywhere you go you’ll find booths and street sellers offering everyday items as well as special holiday treats. You might consider purchasing some hand-painted skulls (not real human skulls, just in case you were wondering), hand-painted masks (skeletons again), or handmade jewelry.

Every holiday has some kind of special foods associated with it. Day of the Dead is the best time to enjoy mole negro (black mole sauce) and calabaza en dulce (candied pumpkin). Hot chocolate is also served, but it may not be sweet depending on who sells it. In the past, hot chocolate was a spicy drink. The calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) are special candies, but not for eating. They are part of the decorations on the altars.

As you’re strolling the festive streets of Oaxaca, make an effort to visit the Zócalo (city center). Sand art or tapetes de arena (sand tapestries) can be found here. They often depict a scene or a famous person. Be on the lookout for Catrina, who is the symbol of the Day of the Dead. She was first depicted in a painting by José Guadalupe Posada, called La Calavera Catrina (“The Elegant Skull”). Women in a Catrina costume will look like skeletons with a large hat full of flowers.

Lastly, try to visit the cemeteries. In Oaxaca, there are three main cemeteries: Panteon General (Oaxaca General Cemetery), Panteon Viejo (old cemetery), and Panteon Nuevo (new cemetery). If you can, venture outside Oaxaca and see the villages in order to experience their unique traditions for this holiday. The Day of the Dead honors the dead and celebrates life, which is good reason to have a festive atmosphere full of parades, fireworks, and fun food.


Where to Stay:

Casa Divina Oaxaca, a charming and intimate resort located four blocks from the many fascinating historic sites and wonderful restaurants of downtown Oaxaca. The resort, located within a lovingly restored 19th-century Oaxacan home, reflects the culture of this fascinating city. Authentic Oaxacan art hangs from sun-dried clay walls, making Casa Divina Oaxaca truly feel like a home away from home. Oaxaca is a historic and cultural marvel famous for its spectacular architecture and delicious food.



Whale Watching Season in Los Cabos

If you were a whale, wouldn’t you want to visit the mild waters off the coast of Los Cabos? Of course you would!

Almost every whale species can be found in Mexico’s bays and the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s coast. Whales migrate from the colder waters up north in the Arctic to visit their annual breeding grounds. Experts calculate some whales to have traveled over 14,000 miles round trip, migrating from Russia to Mexico and back. In Mexico’s warmer waters, whales procreate and raise their calves, staying in the warmer climate for months.

This means whale watching for you!

“Each year in early autumn, one of nature’s most delightful signs of seasonal change occurs—the migration of hundreds of whales from the frigid waters of the Arctic to the warm, calm waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula. And, from December to March, there is no better place to view such a spectacle than Los Cabos.”

Travelers make their own migration to Los Cabos to join in the pleasures of whale watching. But which whale species actually come near Los Cabos? And how can they be identified? Bryde, humpback, gray, blue, sei, minke, and fin whales have all been spotted off the coast of Baja California. When you’re out on a whale watching tour, it’s good to know a little bit about the various species, especially something about their appearance to help you identify them.

Characteristics of Each Whale Species

Bryde whales have a slender body with blue-grey skin. Look for the three ridges on their heads. Humpback whales have lots of bumps on their heads called tubercles. Look for their dark flippers and listen for their long, complex songs sometimes lasting over 30 minutes (actually, you probably need special underwater audio equipment for that). Gray whales have gray skin covered with barnacles. They don’t have a dorsal fin, but their narrow head has baleen (whale teeth) that are a sight to see. If you spot a blue whale, you’re in luck! Blue whales are the largest animals on earth. Look for their long bodies with blue or gray skin. Their heads are so huge that they take up about a quarter of the total body length. Minke whales are smaller. Their heads narrow to a sharp point. Their skin is black or grey. Look for their most distinguishing feature: white bands on their flippers. Fin whales have been nicknamed the “greyhound of the sea.” They have white bellies and dark grey bodies. Look for their small dorsal fin.

What to Bring

When you go whale watching, be sure to bring a few things along to help you maximize your adventure. First, dress appropriately for the weather. Second, get a good pair of binoculars. You’ll be out in the ocean and someone will spot a whale, and if you don’t have binoculars, you might miss the spectacle. If you’re a photographer, think about what gear you need in order to take the best shots: tripod, zoom lens, protective coverings from the weather, etc. Also, think about getting a guide on whale watching. It doesn’t hurt to read a little on vacation. You’ll impress the other onlookers with your knowledge of the deep!

“Los Cabos is a prime location for whale watching,” said Ruben Reachi, Los Cabos Tourism Board Managing Director. “Our region’s ideal climate, shallow waters, salinity and abundant marine life make it the perfect place for whales to birth and rear their young each year.”

The best time to go to Baja California Sur for whale watching is January and February. The season lasts from December to March, but the most whales are in the area in January and February. Find a tour company which suits your taste. How long do you want to be out on the water? What kind of amenities are you expecting (breakfast, lunch, drinks, etc.)? And, is there an expert on board? Someone who will talk your ear off or someone who can answer your questions? Maybe both? Both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo have plenty of tours to choose from.

Lastly, if you’re still wondering if you should go, consider this: whales are intelligent animals. They communicate through sonar which can be heard for miles. They raise their young much like any good parent. When you see a whale surface, you appreciate the enormity of their size, and you’re reminded of the preciousness of life. Soak in the experience. Capture the moment on film. Los Cabos is just the place to find your whale inspiration.


Where to Stay

Club Regina Los Cabos is located just an easy fifteen-minute drive away from the heart of Cabo San Lucas, right in the middle of the action! The resort rises above the shoreline where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Every unit faces the ocean and you can enjoy colorful sunsets and sunrises from your terrace.


Happy Independence Day, Mexico!

The celebration of independence is not quite like any other celebration. That’s because the feeling of independence is felt so strongly by those who live free. And Mexican Independence Day – Dia de la Independencia – is the day Mexicans join with their fellow countrymen to celebrate their independence from Spain.

It’s one of the biggest celebrations of the year. You can find a festive atmosphere everywhere, all across Mexico, in every city. Mexicans know how to throw a party. Mexican Independence Day – officially recognized every year on September 16 – is filled with fireworks, dancing, and parades. And don’t forget about the food and beer! How can you celebrate any Mexican holiday without some authentic Mexican cuisine and cerveza?


The Cry That Started a Revolution

In the early 1800s, Mexico had already been a Spanish colony for hundreds of years. The Spaniards arrived in 1519, with the intention of conquering the native tribal peoples. After achieving victory, more Spaniards arrived. They began to settle the region, intermarry with the local people, and build a New Spain.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was born in 1753 in Guanajuato (north of Mexico City), at a time when New Spain had some growing unrest. The social caste system and the negatives of being ruled by a foreign power made for a tense political situation. Although Hidalgo became a Catholic priest, he had such leadership skills and a passion for the freedom of his people that he could not stay quiet.

In 1810, he and some fellow patriots planned a revolt, but ultimately the plan failed. After forcing the sheriff to release some independence sympathizers from jail, Hidalgo called for an early morning Mass on September 16, 1810. About 300 people attended the Mass, including some Spaniards. Hidalgo feared he could be arrested any moment for his involvement in the revolt. In a moment of desperation, he rallied his countrymen to rebel against the Spanish government.

This call to war is known as the Cry of Dolores (Grito de Dolores). The speech was not preserved with its original words. Historians vary on exactly what Hidalgo said. But most versions agree it had to be something like this:

“Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen 300 years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once.”

Library of Congress

It was Hidalgo’s leadership and this passionate plea that eventually led to Mexico’s independence from Spain. Hidalgo was captured and executed by the Spaniards less than a year after his famous speech. The fight for independence would last almost 11 years. Spain signed the treaty in 1821, and Mexico was finally recognized as a free state.

México, lindo y querido | Beautiful and Beloved Mexico

The Cry Heard All Across Mexico Today

Hidalgo is remembered with reverence. He is included in a 150-foot tall Monument to Independence in Mexico City. Hidalgo’s image appears on the 1000 Pesos bill in Mexican currency. People pay homage to the Father of Mexican Independence on this day by remembering his Grito de Dolores. In town squares all across Mexico, you can hear reenactments of his famous speech on Independence Day.


“Each year on the night of September 15—the eve of Mexican Independence Day—the president of the republic shouts a version of “el Grito” from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City: “Viva México! Viva la Independencia! Vivan los héroes!” The ceremony is broadcast throughout the country and is repeated on a smaller scale in many towns and villages”. Encyclopedia Britannica

The President of Mexico gets in on the action, too. His role begins on the eve of Independence Day, at 11:00 at night. He rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. Then he shares a Grito Mexicano – based on the original Grito de Dolores. The speech goes like this:


Long live the heroes who gave us our homeland!

Long live Hidalgo!

Long live Morelos!

Long live Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!

Long live Allende!

Long live Aldama and Matamoros!

Long live the independence of our nation!

Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

The next day, September 16, is set aside for the whole country to celebrate. Visitors to Mexico can enjoy joining in the festivities and the fun spirit of the holiday. There’s plenty to see: parades, marching band competitions, dancing, patriotic programs, concerts, and fireworks. Don’t expect people to go to work. And you might find some streets are shut down to make room for the celebrations. Such is the excitement you’ll find at the fiesta de independencia!

Long Live Mexico!


The Colors of Autumn in Jackson Hole

It doesn’t matter where you spend your summer, Jackson Hole is the place to be in the autumn. The fall colors of orange, gold, and red come out in full force in the months of September and October. Fall in the mountains is an annual beauty not to be missed. Every season has its own charm, but there’s something special about autumn in Jackson Hole.

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“The summer crowds are long gone, the aspens are turning colors, and there’s a familiar crispness in the air. Thin sprinklings of snow have already dusted the mountains, yet ski season is still a month or two away.” Jackson Hole Traveler

The pine trees and other evergreens don’t change colors, but there are plenty of deciduous trees in the Jackson Hole area. Look for the Quaking Aspen, a very tall tree (82 feet), to change its colors from green to yellow. The Dwarf Birch is a shrub (3-4 feet high) whose leaves change from green to red. Another shrub, the Red-Osier Dogwood, has fall leaves that are bright red to purple. Rocky Mountain Maple trees are not particularly tall (30-40 feet), but have beautiful muted red-colored leaves in the fall.

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Photographers, both casual and professional, come to Jackson Hole every year to capture the incredible moments of fall. Tour guides can direct you to some of the best spots and best times to photograph the landscape and wildlife you are in search of. Companies like Jack Bayles Photography and AlpenGlow Tours know the Jackson Hole area, the seasons, and can give tips on photography in general. Or maybe you’re more independent and want to try it on your own. Grand Teton National Park and Snake River Canyon are some of the most popular spots.

But even if you’re not into photography, the season of transition shouldn’t be missed. While you’re appreciating the color change of leaves, you can join in the fun events and activities of Jackson Hole in the fall.

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Jackson Hole Fall Arts

Every September Jackson Hole celebrates art in the Tetons by hosting the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival. The first festival was held in 1985. This year is the 32nd annual festival, and will start on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, and end on Sunday, September 18, 2016. The various events take place all over town, including the The Inn at Jackson Hole Conference Center, the Snow King Center, and the town square.

Each festival has a featured artist, one whose art is a reflection of Jackson Hole. This year’s featured artist is Edward Aldrich, a painter of North American wildlife and landscapes. His featured painting is called Greeting the Dawn, an oil painting of an American bison with some mountains in the background.

Festival participants can expect to meet lots of artists and art-lovers. Several artists will paint out on the street in front of live audiences. Galleries will display works of art, giving onlookers a chance to browse and find their favorites. Near the end of the 11 days the Jackson Hole Art Auction will begin at noon on Saturday, September 17. If you’ve done your homework, then you’ll be ready to outbid your competing buyers for that prize piece of artwork.

Throughout the festival there’s an atmosphere of celebration of art, food, wine, and life in Jackson Hole. Visitors appreciate the warm hospitality and charm of the community. The festival brings together people from all walks of life with different perspectives and artistic talents. When you come, not only will you feel welcome, but you’ll have the chance to learn something and see the Old West through others’ eyes.

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Other Fall Fun

If you miss the Fall Arts Festival, there are other events in the fall you might consider, like the LoToJa Bicycle Classic (Logan, Utah To Jackson Hole, Wyoming). This is a 210-mile bicycle race, all completed in one day (September 10). There is also the Jackson Hole Marathon and Old Bill’s Fun Run. Hunting and fishing are available throughout the fall for those with the proper licenses. A unique natural phenomenon you have to hear for yourself is the annual elk mating call. Also called “bugling,” this is one of nature’s songs you can find in Grand Teton National Park.

Where To Stay

Teton Club combines unparalleled luxury with rustic Western aesthetics to create an unforgettable vacation experience. The resort is located in Teton Village in the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, widely considered one of the best skiing destinations in North America. Teton Club offers a wide range of amenities you can enjoy during your time in Jackson Hole, including ski-in/ski-out access, an underground parking garage with valet service, a private lounge, library, and a Great Room ideal for relaxing after a long day on the slopes.

Exploring the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs

Palm Springs might be known for its golf courses and hot springs, but there are some not-to-be-missed natural landmarks that require a little more effort than just hopping in your car. I’m talking about hiking. Hiking is exercise, but depending where you hike, the amount of incline or decline of the terrain, and how fast you go will all determine how much exercise you get. But when the destination is as awesome as the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs, you’re not worried about the workout. You just want to experience nature’s best in the southern California desert.

And you won’t be disappointed.

There are two main canyons which are under the supervision of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Tahquitz Canyon is located just north of the Indian Canyons Golf Resort on the western side of Palm Springs. Indian Canyons includes Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon, and Murray Canyon. The entrance for all three canyons is south of Indian Canyons Golf Resort.

“As early as the 1890’s, Palm Springs and the surrounding area have been described as a recreation oasis. Tahquitz Canyon and three southern canyons are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Palm Canyon is considered the world’s largest California Fan Palm Oasis.”

Tahquitz Canyon

The Tahquitz Canyon Trail follows the Tahquitz Creek, forming a two-mile loop trail to Tahquitz Falls and back. Along the trail you can find Sacred Rock, marked by rock art and bedrock mortars dating back over 1,000 years. About halfway down the trail you will encounter the mouth of Tahquitz Canyon, or Lookout Rock of Kak wa wit. The Tahquitz Falls were originally called Pal hani kalet by the Indian leader of the Fox Tribe. It is believed by many that this is a sacred place of power, and will rejuvenate your body. Beavertail Cactus, with a beautiful pink bloom, thrives in this area. Also found here are Desert Mistletoe, Trixis (a lovely yellow flower), and Desert Apricot.

Photo by: KateEditor

Photo by: KateEditor

Indian Canyons

The Indian Canyons offer multiple trails in three different canyons. After passing through the toll booth, if you turn right you will come to the parking area for Andreas Canyon and Murray Canyon. There are at least 5 trails that begin from this spot. The Andreas Canyon has fan palms, unusual rock formations, and the Andreas Creek to keep the palm trees green. Less visited is Murray Canyon. Among the many palm trees, some of the wildlife you may see are the Peninsula Big Horned Sheep and mule deer.

The third canyon, Palm Canyon, can be accessed by driving 2.3 miles straight from the toll booth. Just follow the road. Palm trees line Palm Canyon Creek and West Fork Palm Canyon Creek. There are some warm springs just a short distance from the Trading Post. The California Fan Palm can be found wherever you find a source of water.

Take advantage of the trail maps, which mark the difficulty levels and give you a good idea of distances. There are lots of hiking tips on the Indian Canyons website that will help you stay hydrated and safe. My favorite tip: When half of your water is gone, turn around and head back.

Photo by: Larry Ehl

Hiking vs. Horseback Riding

Did you ever consider how beautiful the desert is? When you hike on these canyon trails, you travel at a pace that affords you the time to stop and actually look at nature. You’re not in a motorized vehicle just getting a quick glance as you fly by. You’re more connected with the places you visit when you’re on foot. You might take pictures or a video. You sit down and rest in the shade. You might encounter some wildlife to liven up your day! Hiking gives you freedom to explore what interests you. Sure, it takes a little more work, but nature will reward you with its beautiful waterfalls, vistas, and flowers.

Listen to one hiker’s experience:

“The hike was easy to moderate through the section I explored.  There were picnic tables scattered about under the shade of the palm trees. Along the trail there were interesting rock formations and native plants.  Cottonwoods, reeds, brittle bush, lavender, globe mallow and sage were also present in or near the oasis.”

Hiking is just one way to see the diversity of plants and landscape in the desert canyons. Horseback riding is also available on many of the trails. Smoke Tree Stables offers guided horseback rides on the Indian Canyons Trails. They are closed for the hottest part of the year (July and August), but will reopen on September 3, 2016. Smoke Tree Stables has two rides available: a 1-hour trail ride along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains or the Murray Canyon Haul Ride from Andreas Canyon to Murray Canyon and back.

Or you can bring your own horse.

Either way, come to Palm Springs and inspect the stark beauty of Indian Canyons for yourself. Give yourself a chance to walk in the footsteps of Indian tribes of long ago.

Where to Stay

Cimarron Golf Resort offers two championship golf courses, the Boulder Course and the Pebble Course, both spectacular fairways under the skyline of the San Jacinto Mountains.