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Local Blogs Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 at 8:45 am

The Curbed guide to Southern California’s deserts

In LA’s backyard, the desert is anything but desolate

As the weather warms, Southern California turns its attention to the desert. Tens of thousands of people from around the world will flock to Modernism Week and Coachella before summer arrives. But don’t just equate the sun-baked region in and around Palm Springs with pools and parties.

There’s the otherworldly terrain and the fiercely independent pioneers and ingenious artists who have turned the sun-baked region into a destination.The Colorado and Mojave deserts span millions of miles, from the dusty Mexico-U.S. border to the poppy fields of the Antelope Valley to the neon of Las Vegas. Here, we turn our attention to the vibrant, curious, and colorful places in LA’s backyard,and the people still trying to preserve and adapt to the arid landscape.

Whether you’re looking to buy or take a road trip, the desert is a sublime place to live and visit.

— Jenna Chandler


Maggie Shannon

Get to know the ghost towns

They went boom, then bust, but some of the desert’s early settlements haven’t entirely disappeared. “Some have been re-purposed, some glamorized, some left to rot,” says writer Hadley Meares. We sent Meares to explore ghost towns near Mojave. Here’s what she found.


Vanity Fair 2012
Photo by Todd Eberle/Condé Nast via Getty Images

How to spend a weekend in the desert

A sprawling pueblo built entirely by hand. The “Camp David of the West.” Folk art. A date shake. A sound bath. The perfect place to watch a sunrise. It’ll be tough to see everything in 48 hours, but take your pick from our list of the 21 best ways to experience the desert.


Liz Kuball

In Palm Springs, a couple embraces midcentury style—and green design

Earth-friendly features include solar energy, water-saving systems and appliances, and low-VOC paint—things nearly unheard of in the middle of the 20th century.


An illustrated guide to the desert’s unique flora

Bijou Karman

There’s lots of eye candy in the desert. But our favorite is the kind that blooms. We’ve illustrated some of the most common—and most striking—plants that you’ll find in the high and low deserts. You’re the expert now.


John Lewis Marshall

Breeze blocks’ day in the sun

The Palm Springs version of the brise-soleil. Builders peppered sunny Palm Springs with decorative screen blocks in the the 1950s and ’60s, making it one of the best places in the country to see this groovy architectural feature. Keep your eyes peeled for the concrete blocks next time you’re in town.


Courtesy of Avalon Hotels

Where to stay in Palm Springs

If you’re going to book a room in Palm Springs, do it at one of these luscious hotels. Our picks include private bungalows that serve up a Hollywood Regency palate cleanser.


Rendering by Robert Hidey Architects

Design and development in the desert

  • Will Miralon, a housing development planned for Palm Springs, featuring 1,500 solar-powered homes, be a model for sustainable communities in the desert?
  • Housing prices haven’t recovered since the recession, but if you’re looking for a deal, you’re probably a few years too late.

More reading


Writers: Jenna Chandler, Hadley Meares, Bianca Barragan, Elijah Chiland, Alissa Walker, Patrick Sisson, Sara Fay, Mary Jo Bowling Editors: Jenna Chandler, Mariam Aldhahi, Mercedes Kraus, Asad SyrkettCopy editor: Emma AlpernPhoto editor: Audrey LevineContinue reading: Curbed LA


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