7 Outdoor Adventures in and Around the Coachella Valley

From the Palm Springs Windmill Tours to the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum, these attractions will immerse you in the great outdoors.

November 2, 2023
Story by Site Staff
Palm Springs Windmill Tours. 
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PALM SPRINGS WINDMILL TOURS

SPONSORED

Palm Springs Windmill Tours

Learn about turbine technology and snap a selfie with a wind farm backdrop. Explore at your own pace with a self-driving tour or join a guided golf cart excursion. Palm Springs Life readers named this one of the area’s best tours in the magazine’s 2023 Best of the Best competition.

Fantasy Balloon Flights

It’s time for a fresh perspective. Family-owned since 1981, Fantasy Balloon Flights sweeps riders off the desert floor in balloons that are more than eight stories high. Baskets range in size and can accommodate two to 10 passengers plus a pilot.

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Fantasy Balloon Flights.
PHOTO BY DANIELA STALLINGER

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Red Jeep Tours.
PHOTO COURTESY RED JEEP TOURS BY DESERT ADVENTURES

SPONSORED

Red Jeep Tours by Desert Adventures

Get up close and personal with some of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the desert, from the badlands of the San Andreas Fault to the lush palm oases in the Indian Canyons to the scenic landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. Since 1988, Desert Adventures has been one of the area’s most highly regarded tour companies, offering entertaining tours in classic open-air Jeeps as their expert naturalist guides describe the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the scenic surrounds. Signature San Andreas Fault Jeep Tours explore the company’s private location in the Indio Hills, where riders get to visit a natural palm oasis, a replica Cahuilla Indian village, and the narrow canyons of the San Andreas Fault zone. Guided hikes take you through slot canyons to amazing overlooks. Desert Adventures also offers customized private and group tours and VIP experiences.

SPONSORED

BMW Performance Center

Pack some thrills into your getaway! German automaker BMW maintains three performance centers in the United States, where you can get behind the wheel of the latest fleet of machines to either brush up on your defensive driving and maneuvering skills or — for the racetrack inclined — push the pedal to the metal to see just how powerful these vehicles can be on a closed course. Professional instructors are on-site to guide you through each turn.

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BMW Performance Center.
PHOTO COURTESY BMW PERFORMANCE CENTER

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BMW Performance Center West is located at the ultra-exclusive Thermal Club, a residential club sited around a race circuit that has been known to host internationally recognized racing drivers. Half- and full-day courses are available, and all skill levels are welcome. The performance center will also design a custom private event for you and your crew.

This is your chance to spend a few hours in the all-new BMW M2, push a 617-horsepower BMW M5 through hairpin turns, or find the limit of a high-octane BMW M4 GT4. Buckle up! It’s the ultimate rush.

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The Integratron.
PHOTO COURTESY VISIT GREATER PALM SPRINGS

Integratron

This Landers landmark began life as a wannabe time machine created by ufologist George Van Tassel, who claimed that an alien from Venus visited and gave him the plans. Soaring 38 feet high, the dome is constructed entirely out of wood, with no metal or nails. It is said to be acoustically perfect, and several musicians have recorded here. Now privately owned by three sisters, the Integratron is open to the public for sound baths and occasional events. Reservations are required. Book a sound bath, and you’ll relax on a mat while a practitioner creates resonant sounds from quartz-
crystal bowls that echo through the dome and take you on a sonic trip. If you simply want to stop by to visit the gift shop, call ahead to confirm it’s open, as opening hours vary.

Armando’s Bar

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum.
PHOTO COURTESY NOAH PURIFOY FOUNDATION

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum

The community’s trash — abandoned objects like old tires, TVs, refrigerators, and broken toilets — became this man’s treasure. Born in Alabama in 1917, Noah Purifoy was a longtime resident of Los Angeles before moving to Joshua Tree. He crafted his first sculpture with debris from the 1965 Watts riots.

The late artist’s outdoor museum of assemblage art features more than 100 installations and is free to visit from sunrise to sunset. Brochures are available at the welcome kiosk to help you map out your self-guided tour.

Salvation Mountain

A few dusty roads away from the Salton Sea lies the masterwork of late artist and Army veteran Leonard Knight. With detritus, adobe clay, and a rainbow of paints, he fabricated a mountain celebrating God’s love. For three decades, Knight lived on-site in a 1939 fire truck and offered tours for visitors. The 50-foot-high Salvation Mountain, about a 90-minute drive from Palm Springs, is now cared for by local residents. Interior tunnels, supported by trees, lead to rooms with memorabilia, including a plaque from Sen. Barbara Boxer proclaiming the work a national treasure.