Adventure Activities in Palm Springs - Try if You Dare
by Roger Grody, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 21st 2010 04:37 PM
1. Fly Over Palm Springs
Who said flying is no fun anymore? In Palm Springs, you can snap on your goggles and step back in time for the flight of your life, aboard the classic 1943 Stearman biplane operated by Palm Springs Air Tours. This Boeing-made aircraft, popular in its day for training purposes, has vintage good looks and seating for pilot Tom Ackland and a single passenger.
You'll soon find out there's nothing quite like riding in an open-air cockpit over the mountains and subdivisions below, with the bright blue desert sky all around you. Pilot Tom will even perform aerobatics for adventurous passengers, upon request. After the half-hour ride, most people have difficulty coming down from the high!
Palm Springs Air Tours
Bermuda Dunes Executive Airport
79880 Avenue 42
Bermuda Dunes, CA 92203
Plane rides daily
Rides begin at $299
2. Palm Springs Sand Dunes
The sand dunes outside of Palm Springs look incredibly inviting, even when driving through them on the highway, but driving over them on a dune buggy-like Honda all-terrain vehicle makes for truly exhilarating adventure travel. Offroad Rentals provides this adventure activity in Palm Springs over a 50-acre swatch of the Mojave Desert, covered with shifting sand dunes in the shadows of imposing, often snow-capped mountains.
Safety is a major priority and all drivers are required to watch an instructional video and don the goggles and safety helmets provided before embarking on a 30- to 45-minute journey at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. It's great for groups, and even kids as young as six years old can participate – they even get their own smaller-scale vehicles and some extra attention from the staff.
59511 U.S. Highway 111
Palm Springs, CA 92262
3. Desert Adventures Over the San Andreas Fault
Nothing symbolizes Earthquake Country like the San Andreas Fault, which spans more than 800 miles of California, including a swatch of the Coachella Valley. Desert Adventures takes you through its 840-acre Metate Ranch in Indio in a shiny red Jeep, meandering around the scraggly cuts and canyons of the notorious San Andreas Fault Zone.
In addition to showing a landscape tortured by the earth's tectonic forces, the tour also explores the indigenous flora and fauna. The two- to three-hour tours are customizable, and can include hiking through the wilderness, a visit to a replica of Cahuilla Indian village or participation in an archeological dig. These Jeep rides represent one of the best adventure activities in the Palm Springs area. Just pray the San Andreas is asleep the day you visit!
74-794 Lennon Place, Suite A
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Rides begin at $100
4. Rock Climbing in "JTree"
Joshua Tree National Park offers nine campgrounds, as well as ranger-guided walks, hikes and campfire talks. There are outdoor activities for everybody, regardless of physical abilities.
Despite its desert environment, there are more than 800 species of vascular plants here, some quite intriguing, and five fan palm oases are present inside the park's boundaries. The star attraction, of course, is the haunting yucca brevifolia, or Joshua tree, which blossoms in early spring.
The park is studded with jagged and rounded rocks created 100 million years ago by the cooling of molten magma, giving the landscape an eerie, moonlike surface. Because of this, "JTree" is particularly popular with daring Palm Springs rock climbers who scale the smooth granite surfaces of these outcroppings.
Joshua Tree National Park
Oasis Visitor Center
At the junction of Utah Trail & National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
7-day vehicle permit $15
5. Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Palm Springs
Nothing combines serenity and excitement like the high-spirited Palm Springs adventure activity of hot air ballooning, an experience not soon forgotten. Balloons Above specializes in taking Palm Springs visitors soaring high above the overcrowded chaos we call solid ground.
Scenic ballooning, which can be initially unnerving but ultimately euphoric, is ideal for occasions ranging from corporate teambuilding to unforgettable weddings – just be sure neither the bride nor groom is afraid of heights! With their many vibrantly colored aircraft, Balloons Above can get about 100 passengers into the air at once, giving them all awesome views and memories of the Coachella Valley.
Your pilot will point out the landmarks below – golf courses, resort hotels, Interstates and shopping centers – as well as serve champagne and cookies while this romantic craft floats with the breezes for 60 to 90 glorious minutes. For a special treat, consider a sunrise ride.
Launch sites vary
Adults $195, children 5-12 $175
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