San Jacinto Mountains

The San Jacinto Mountains serve as a fine backdrop for Palm Springs and the other Coachella Valley cities. This mountain range in Southern California begins at less than 1,100 feet above sea level and tops out at an elevation of approximately 10,800 feet. The highest point is Mount San Jacinto, the upper flanks of which can be accessed by the Palm Springs Tram. Once tram riders get to the upper reaches of Mount San Jacinto, they are welcomed by stunning views of the region. So divine is the view from Mount San Jacinto that the famous naturalist, John Muir, once referred to it as the "one of the most sublime spectacles to be found anywhere on this earth!"

San Jacinto Mountains
San Jacinto Mountains

The San Jacinto Mountains are responsible for forming the northernmost portion of the larger Peninsular Ranges, and they essentially link the San Bernardino Mountains to the Santa Rosa Mountains. The Peninsular Ranges, for the purpose of clarification, extend from Southern California to the Baja California Peninsula. On the eastern side of these mountains near Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley unfolds, offering numerous attractions for vacationers to enjoy.

Many vacationers who are spending time in the Palm Springs area understandably have San Jacinto Mountains hiking in mind. If you are a hiking enthusiast, you will be happy to know that a number of trails offer access to these alluring mountains near Palm Springs. In fact, the renowned Pacific Crest Trail, which is a hiking and horseback riding trail that extends from California north to Washington, runs along the spine of the San Jacinto Mountains. Should you take the tram to the upper flanks of San Jacinto Mountain, you can easily access the trails of Mount San Jacinto State Park. On clear days, various vantage points in this state park offer views of the Los Angeles Basin unfolding to the west and the Mojave Desert off to the east.

Surrounding Mount San Jacinto State Park is the San Jacinto Wilderness. This 32,040-acre wilderness offers up even more San Jacinto Mountains hiking trails, and as is true of Mount San Jacinto State Park, it protects the upper reaches of the overall range. The upper reaches of these mountains near Palm Springs offer a stark contrast to the valley floor. At higher elevations, the granite domes and ridges are heavily forested, and during the winter season, the higher peaks are blanketed in snow. Worth noting is the fact that anyone who takes the Palm Springs Tram to Mount San Jacinto State Park during the winter season can do some snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.

San Jacinto Mountains Map
San Jacinto Mountains Map

Numerous canyons can be found in the San Jacinto Mountains, and these canyons have long served as places of refuge for the indigenous Cahuilla tribe. Several of the canyons are ideal spots to do some San Jacinto Mountains hiking and climbing, with the Indian Canyons being among the most popular. In some of the canyons, streams encourage a diverse range of plants to grow, with the California fan palms offering an almost tropical appeal. Few desert regions offer this much diversity in terms of terrain and flora. The fauna is also worthy of mention. Among the animals that call the San Jacinto Mountains home are Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, desert tortoises, and slender salamanders. As is true of many of the animal species that live in these mountains near Palm Springs, these species are both rare and endangered.

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