We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Great place. Worth the drive...a desert and animal experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, CA 92260
Improve this listing
Book ahead on Viator
Top Rated
and up
Palm Springs and Outlet Shopping Day Trip from...
Ranked #2 of 11 Attractions in Palm Desert
Type: Natural History Museums, Deserts, Gardens, Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Parks, Zoos & Aquariums
Activities: Group tours/walking tour, Viewing foliage, Viewing wildlife, Walking
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The botanical gardens of this park offer great opportunities to see desert vegetation.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Perth Australia
Top Contributor
122 reviews 122 reviews
62 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
153 helpful votes 153 helpful votes
“Great place. Worth the drive...a desert and animal experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2009

After a short drive (NOT) from Anaheim, we decided to visit this zoo. Hubby wanted to go to the desert, me to a zoo so this killed 2 birds. 80miles from Anaheim, we arrived at this oasis.

We went on US Election Day.

The Living Desert was established in March 1970 as a 360 acre wilderness preserve. Today it is one of the most unique institutions in the country and stands out as the only American zoo and garden dedicated solely to interpreting and conserving the deserts of the world and is the only zoological and botanical park specializing in just one entire ecosystem.

Worth the trip!

Great model train display (think its the longest wooden scale trestle one in the world) is great even if youre not into trains. I can see the attraction why so many oldies are into them as you can keep adding and make your own world.

Has a wildlife hospital (hubby swears the guy who did the tour is Kirk Douglas......no its not! Speaks like him though). Observe medical procedures and examinations taking place in the Small & Large Animal Treatment Rooms. Learn more about what is required to care for The Living Desert's extensive animal collection.

New butterfly & hummingbird house. Sweet little hummingbirds fly all around you, hard to get a photo of them BUT its fun trying.

Theres the Discovery Room, where visitors of all ages can examine, touch, compare and sleuth out many of the interesting things about deserts. Fun even for the big kids!

Theres also a path that you can take that takes you into the desert where you can go to an observation deck & from here, you can see the San Andreas Fault. Very cool

Well worth the trip. Quite a warm day & it was November so itd be hot as in summer.
Its gorgeous! And a bargain too at $12.50 (which goes back in to support the zoo)

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

923 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Midwest USA
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Not to be Missed! Incredible Desert Gem”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2009

The Living Desert Museum is amazing. Much better than a zoo, lots of natural plants and well marked trails and signs. The butterfly and hummingbird compound is worth the price of admission alone. Wonderful volunteers are helpful and informative. This was truly a highlight to my visit to the Palm Springs area. Great for kids or people of all ages. Hats off to everyone at the Living Desert!

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Fun for all”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2008

Beautiful cacti and other desert native plants, animals seemed content enough.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Top Contributor
99 reviews 99 reviews
22 attraction reviews
Reviews in 46 cities Reviews in 46 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Explore The Desert and Nature On Your Own”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2008

A visit to the Living Desert and Gardens gave us the opportunity to see remarkable native plants, animals and the natural landscape of the Palm Desert area. As we walked through the winding paths we saw how the Living Desert was helping to protect this nature. The desert flora and fauna are located in natural settings that gives you the feeling of walking through a natural landscape. There are more than 400 different species that live there including mexican wolves, bobcats and falcons. There's a separate outdoor theater that offers live presentatiosn twice a day. In some displays, you walk in wire caged areas and watch the birds in their natural environment.
There is tram shuttle for $6 and all day use. We walked and stopped everywhere. And don't miss the largest model train layout I've every seen. There are 7 different train sets running at the same time over more than a half acre layout. It's a great place to be enjoyed by kids and adults visiting in Palm Desert.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Top Contributor
100 reviews 100 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
“An essential Palm Springs visit if you have kids”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2007

The Living Desert is a very well managed, small theme "zoo", focused on the animals found in the world's desert regions. The animals' living situations appear well-managed and well-cared-for, and the park stresses education and conservation in everything they do.

We have visited the Living Desert virtually every year for the last 15 years, and have been impressed how the facility has grown while continuing to emphasize public education and wildlife conservation. Arrive early and read the daily program to find out when educational shows and activities will occur. Later in the season, and especially in the summer, the animals are inactive during the heat of the day -- but if you arrive early, you may be treated to cheetahs running, Mexican wolves "hunting" and more. Today, after years of visits mid-day and later, we saw more activity (including a bighorn sheep) than we've ever been treated to before (I assume because we arrived at 9:15am).

The Living Desert is an excellent local attraction for all, and particularly for families with young children.

Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Living Desert Zoo & Gardens also viewed

Palm Springs, Greater Palm Springs
Palm Desert, Greater Palm Springs
Palm Desert, Greater Palm Springs
Palm Springs, Greater Palm Springs

Been to Living Desert Zoo & Gardens? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.