Running In Palm Springs

Cholla Cactus

Palm Springs is located in the desert of California’s Coachella Valley. Downtown Palm Springs has a pedestrian-friendly core offering lots of free parking. On Thursday evenings, this core is blocked off from cars for a street market. It's an accommodating city as I saw messages welcoming the LGBTQ community, people with handicaps and/or service animals. 

Thursday Evening Street Market in Downtown Palm Springs

Palm Springs also accommodates it’s desert climate through innovative architectural design. You'll come across many single-story homes, geometrically-shaped, usually painted white, with the front door carrying a splash of color and framed with a cactus garden in the front yard. Schedule a run to check out this desert-inspired architecture. For instance, Murray Canyon Drive has many homes with this style of architecture. In North Palm Canyon, one of my favorite homes, and considered one of the most architecturally significant homes in the country, is the Kaufmann House built shortly after World War II.

A Sampling of Houses Along Murray Canyon Drive

Pool-Side View of the Kaufmann House

Palm Springs is located at the valley floor of the Coachella Desert (about 145m elevation) and is surrounded by mountains. The San Jacinto Mountains are located directly west and south of the city. The San Bernardino Mountains are situated north of the city. With close access to mountains, this means Palm Springs has lots of opportunity for trail running and hiking; check out these trails: South Lykken, Araby, and Palm Springs Tramway (top of tramway backs on to the San Jacinto State Park and Pacific Coast trail systems).

View of Palm Springs from the South Lykken Trail

A Sampling of Trails in San Jacinto State Park

Also, an hour’s drive north is Joshua Tree National Park, which is another rich source for hiking and trail running. Joshua Tree is at an elevation of about 820m and is part of the Mojave Desert. On the way to Joshua Tree one crosses the San Andreas Fault. Check out these trails: Forty-nine Palms Oasis, Hidden Valley, and Lost Horse Mine. These trails are all well-maintained.

A Palm Oasis Greets the Runner at the Forty-nine Palms Oasis Trail Turnaround

Lost Horse Mine Trail Provides a 10K Loop

 -       -      -       -       -
Surprise Workout
Run or bike from the Palm Springs Visitors Center to the Tramway parking lot toll booth. The distance is approximately 6K and is a steady uphill climb (10% average grade / 605m vertical) which can easily take your heart rate into the threshold zone. The Palm Springs Tram Road Challenge 6K takes place here in October.
The Building for the Palm Springs Visitor Center was originally designed as a Gas Station!
 -       -       -       -       -
Palm Springs has a dry, desert climate with an average of two days of precipitation in December and January to zero days in July and August.

For average temperatures, highs of 21°C (70°F) and lows of 7°C (44°F) can be expected in December and January. These temperatures gradually climb to highs of 42°C (107°F) and lows of 25°C (77°F) in July and August.

For run clothing, I needed just a short sleeve shirt and shorts for most early morning runs in February. A nylon jacket will be needed for windy days. The top of the Tramway and Joshua Tree National Park are much cooler than downtown Palm Springs - extra layering required there.

Getting There
Palm Springs is relatively easy to reach by air travel. It has an international airport serviced by major airlines. If driving, Palm Springs is located just off Interstate 10 and situated approximately 200 km (124 mi) east of downtown Los Angeles and 400 km (248 mi) west of Phoenix. Accommodation is relatively easy to arrange online.

Race Calendar 
A sampling of the Palm Springs race calendar:

Thanks for reading!

Trying to fit some running into your vacation schedule? For more on this topic, check out an earlier post: Maintaining Running Fitness on Vacation .

Or maybe you're planning to get in a block of training during a long-stay in a place like Palm Springs? For more on this topic, check out an earlier post: Reflections on a Winter Running Camp .

Have a question for Experiment of One Coaching? Email it to

Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel at .