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The Curbed guide to Southern California’s deserts

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

How to spend a weekend in and around Palm Springs

Spend a weekend discovering hidden folk art, famous architecture, and striking landscapes.

You’ll find some of the planet’s most unique flora in the deserts

How to identify the spectacular succulents, cacti, and palms

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Explore 5 desert ghost towns

They went boom, then bust, but some of the desert’s early settlements haven’t entirely disappeared. Here’s a guide to five ghost towns near Mojave.

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The very best hotels in Palm Springs

If you’re going to book a stay in Palm Springs, do it at one of these luscious hotels. Picks include private bungalows, sleek suites, and budget-friendly rooms.

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.

Time traveling on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is an incredible feat of engineering that brings riders from the desert floor to a wintry mountaintop. It could only make sense in Palm Springs, where the natural and unnatural collide in unexpected ways.

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The midcentury modern architecture feature that deserves your attention

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.

Arthur Elrod and the vibrant, modern interiors of Palm Springs

For clients that included Lucille Ball, the prolific designer blended minimalist interiors, bulky furniture pieces, and opulent antiques.

As spring nears, 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.

The Colorado and Mojave deserts span millions of acres, from the dusty Mexico-U.S. border to the poppy fields of the Antelope Valley to the neon of Las Vegas. The otherworldly terrain was shaped by fiercely independent pioneers and ingenious artists. The landscapes that they left untouched, and the work they left behind, have shaped the region into a destination.

Here, we turn our attention to the vibrant, curious, and colorful desert in LA’s backyard, and the people still trying to preserve and adapt to the arid landscape. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or take a road trip, the desert is a sublime place to live and visit.

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 Syrkett
Copy editor: Emma Alpern
Photo editor: Audrey Levine