Living Desert is a Palm Springs area museum, zoo, and desert reserve wrapped up in one. Among the things that are on display at this multifaceted attraction are a variety of plants and animals that hail from Southern California's desert regions and other world desert regions. As you might imagine, the animals are especially popular with kids. You don't have to be a kid to have a great time at the Living Desert, however, and since there is so much to see and do, visiting for at least a few hours is recommended.
Found approximately ten miles from Palm Springs, the Living Desert in Palm Desert California started out as a wilderness preserve in 1970. Within a few years of its founding, tortoises and lizards figured among the animals that called the preserve home, and by 1975, the Mojave Garden opened. This garden aims to recreate the terrain that you would find in the Mojave Desert. In the decades that followed the establishment of the Living Desert in Palm Desert, numerous facilities have been added, and today the entire attraction covers approximately 1,200 acres. One thing that has never changed is the Living Desert mission. That mission is "desert conservation through preservation, education and education."
The list of things to do at the Living Desert is quite varied. Among the most popular things to do is take a walking or tram tour through an area that offers insight into several desert regions from North America and Africa. In the North American section, the largest exhibit is called Bighorn Mountain. It focuses on Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, or Desert Bighorn Sheep, as they are also known in the region. Other animals that you can expect to see in the North American area during your walking or tram tour at the Living Desert in Palm Desert are wolves, bobcats, badgers, Chuckwalla lizards, and black vultures. Over on the African side, you might think that you've been transported to countries such as Kenya and South Africa when you see the giraffes, African wild dogs, gazelles, camels, and other animals.
When you're not taking a tour through various desert regions of the world at the Living Desert, you might enjoy a camel ride, venture over to the Discovery Center to learn more about nature through various exhibits, checkout the meerkats at the special Meerkat Exhibit, or view majestic eagles at Eagle Canyon. Other options for things to do include taking a look at the model trains at the G-Scale Model Train area, take a ride on the carousel, or watch a daily wildlife show that highlights specific creatures. Seeing what the gardens have to offer is also among the more popular pursuits, as you might imagine. Among the impressive variety of plants that you can see at the Living Desert in Palm Desert are California sagebrush, desert willow, Saguaro cacti, and African ocotillo plants, just to name a few.
Numerous hiking trails wind their way through the nature preserve that can be found at the Living Desert, so you might bring a comfortable pair of hiking shoes along for the visit. The various trails, it should be noted, allow visitors to venture into undisturbed portions of the Sonoran Desert. Some of the trails are closed during the summer months due to the excessive heat. In general, those who are interested in adding some extensive hiking to their list of things to do at the Living Desert will most likely prefer visiting outside of the oppressive summer months.
The Living Desert is open every day except for Christmas Day, though the hours vary according to season. During the summer season, which runs from June 1 to September 30, the hours are 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This reflects the fact that it gets especially hot in this desert region during the summer afternoon hours. As for the other season, or cooler season, it runs from October 1 to May 31. During this period, the hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Special events are held at the Living Desert throughout the year, and these events have hours of their own. Brew at the Zoo, for example, is a beer festival that is held between the hours of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on a chosen February day. One of the other Living Desert events that might pique your interest is the Wildlights Holiday Lights Festival. This especially popular festival runs from late November to January 1 and features more than 750,000 lights between its various holiday season displays.
Image: Living Desert