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“Painted Canyon hike with unexpected side trip”
Review of Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon
Ranked #16 of 118 things to do in Palm Springs
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A variety of colors paint the rocks here, giving this unique location its name.
Abbotsford, Canada
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Painted Canyon hike with unexpected side trip”
Reviewed March 23, 2014

We did this hike today and really enjoyed it. Out goal was to do the slot canyon first with the ladders, get up on the ridge, then come back down the Painted Canyon. However, within 100 yards of the start of the trail we mistakenly went too far left and ended going up a side canyon that eventually led to a series of ascents made with the aid of fixed ropes. It was fun, but we scraped ourselves a bit and some of the ropes are getting a bit frayed. Unless you are good with rope ascents I would advise that you stick to the right of the main trail at the start until you get to the canyon that has the ladders to climb. If you are in a narrow canyon and have gone more than a 1/4 mile without seeing the signpost and the big rock arrows on the ground pointing left, you are likely in the wrong canyon and should turn around. Eventually we made it to the top of the ridge (had to do a bit of a scramble), followed the trail down into the Painted Canyon and came out the way we had planned. Take lots of water and do the trail before it gets too hot.

Visited March 2014
6 Thank RJE52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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141 reviews from our community

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English first
Ramsbottom, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Fun hike”
Reviewed March 12, 2014

This is a really awesome way to spend a couple of hours. The dirt road was the bit I was most worried about but we took a Ford Focus along it with no problems at all. The first bit is definitely the worst - very rutted and quite soft in places - but it gets much better so persevere. It's worth it.

The first bit of the slot canyon is amazing. There was only one ladder we found slightly tricky. The rock arrows make navigation largely very simple. We were unsure just once when we came to a fork while climbing up out of ladder canyon. Take the right-hand path and just follow it to the top.

One more piece of advice, don't wear sandals or you'll be walking on stones all the way back down big painted canyon!

Visited March 2014
4 Thank WWanderer20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
186 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“One of my favourite hikes”
Reviewed March 12, 2014

Having hiked extensively on both coasts and in the rockies, appalachians and smoky mountains, this still ranks as one of my favourite day hikes. Starting at the foot of the canyon, rambling over some rocks and up ladders to snake through a narrow crevice, then gradually reaching the summit, this is a spectacular trail. The descent is much easier, and much of the hike back is through a dry river bed. The kids really liked the part of the trail with hundreds of small rock statues that have been assembled by hikers passing through. There are only a few tricky areas where the ladders are a little broken or don't quite reach the top, and young kids or older adults might need assistance.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank IR8U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yucaipa, California
Level 6 Contributor
68 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“It' just a fun loop”
Reviewed March 11, 2014

Hiker's Rule - never judge a hike based on your view of the general environs and gut feeling. You never know how good a hike is until you do it. This is indeed a very nice hike, and fun, with some geology as well. And varied. I would never do it in summer, or if it looks like rain (I'm sure flash floods have to do with the slot formation - and you never know if it looks inclement).

GPS coordinates for intersection of Box Canyon Road (66th avenue) and Painted Canyon Road are Lat 33.575712 / Long 115.996056. The dirt Road ends at the Parking Lot (don't pull off at a parking place until you know your road has ended, i.e. can't go any further). I think it's a little over 4 miles. It is marked. No cars were broken into when we were there. Regarding wash board - In my Kia Sorento, I found that going 35-40 miles an hour on the washboard was more comfortable than going slower. Watch for on-coming traffic, and don't loose control (I have AWD).

Regarding the trail - at .4 miles into the lovely canyon walk, look on your left for the easy scramble on your left to the slot/ladder part. It is marked with a huge rock arrow on the ground, and a small sign on your right - but unbelievably people still miss it. Do the loop clockwise (meaning the slot part first). If your in a hurry, do the slot up, then back the same way. At the very top of the slot/canyon, you will see some radio towers off in the distance. To find the way into the painted canyon on your right, you will head toward the radio towers in the distance. The trail down into the painted canyon is a little over a mile up, and well marked. Note, the last 100 feet into the canyon is steep, for most, you will be on your butt for at least some of it (not dangerous though). Big note though - when you get to the top of the slot area where you can see the radio towers, there will be a trail down on your right overlooking the painted canyon, going downhill (back toward the parking area). At the very end of that trail is a very nice photo-op into the canyon.

Few last notes - bring water. The high desert trail at the top is very dry! There is no greenery and no blooms (California drought). This part can be attractive in wetter years, but looks scorched now. Total elevation gain is 750 feets (top elevation is around 1400 foot elevation). The Salton Sea is apparent from up there.

Visited March 2014
5 Thank DrJR17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 6 Contributor
157 reviews
69 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“Fun hike!”
Reviewed March 3, 2014

The painted canyon and ladders canyon loop trail is definitely a highlight of the Palm Springs area. There are actually ladders to help hikers up/down the dry falls in the slot-like canyons. Very cool! I highly recommend this hike as a great introduction to the Mecca Hills. Incidentally, even though the road says 4WD only, I've never seen it not be passable by a car.... as long as you don't drive off the road.

Visited February 2014
2 Thank Bob C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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