Desert Scenes

Palm Desert has a lot in common with Las Vegas -- both are unique communities with lavish attractions for well-to-do vacationers and are located in unlikely and seemingly inhospitable desert settings. Ten miles southeast of Palm Springs in California's Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is primarily large resorts, country clubs, and golf courses that flourish on imported water.

This dazzling vista at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort is typical of the Palm Desert area. 1600 palm trees and an uncountable number of flowers on this one square mile (2.6 sq km) property create a scene that, like Las Vegas, is worth a visit even if you don't plan to stay there.

Flowers and palm trees notwithstanding, for us the impressively jagged mountain ranges are the key visual attraction in this desert area. There is a glimpse of them here, with the Santa Rosa Mountains in the foreground and the San Jacinto Mountains in the background, capped by San Jacinto Peak at 10,800 feet (3300 m) above Palm Springs. Las Vegas is surrounded by distant mountains often hidden by the tall hotels, but here there are no tall buildings and the mountains seem to rise abruptly at the edge of town and cast intriguing shadows in the iridescent light at sunrise and sunset.