023: The ugly stepsister: Desert Hot Springs, CA

Desert Hot Springs, March 31, 2021 — Today is our last day at Catalina Spa and RV Resort, our winter home in the Coachella Valley in California. As much as we love it here, we’re excited to be on the road again. 

One of the reasons we took to this area is definitely due to the proximity to design-conscious, uber-cool Palm Springs... sophisticated, charismatic, beautiful—nestled between two mountain ranges, San Bernardino Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains. But our ‘home town’ is actually 12-some miles north of Palm Springs. The north branch of the San Andreas Fault runs through Desert Hot Springs. It is a geothermal geographic area with several hot springs, hence its name. 

If Palm Springs were Cinderella, then Desert Hot Springs would definitely be one of the ugly stepsisters. At least that’s the reputation DHS (as locals refer to the city) has had for a very long while. There is no ‘quaint’ downtown with pretty shops or landmarks, no sprawling golf courses or private country clubs. 

And for good reasons. Its corrupt municipal government went bankrupt early in 2000’s and ever since, DHS has had its fair share of crime and suspicious characters. Meth houses abounded for a while (and may well be even now), serviced by criminal gangs from LA. Not a pretty sight, yet… the ugly stepsister has been trying hard to make amends and as of late, is reshaping her body and putting her unsightly scars to good use.

From meth to cannabis… Desert Hot Springs was the first city in Southern California to legalize medical marijuana cultivation, and has since been overwhelmed by marijuana developers and growers. It was later featured in a CNBC special as California’s first city to permit the commercial cultivation of marijuana in 2014. Workers at these cannabis industrial farms are well paid and there’s plenty of work. The ‘scent’ (or stench depending on your perspective) from the cannabis plants all around is quite overwhelming in cannabis alley! 

I love this tagline from this cannabis commercial farm

Wind Farms. The San Gorgonio Pass is a transitional zone from a Mediterranean climate west of the pass, to a Desert climate east of the pass. Desert Hot Springs is just north of the confluence making the pass area one of the windiest places in the US; it’s a good source of clean energy jobs for DHS and the Coachella Valley. 

There are hundreds of these wind turbines around DHS and North Palm Springs

Luxurious spas abound in DHS. Though there are several spa hotels, the few very best, rarefied resorts are hidden in desert oasis lands, pristine mineral hot spring spas where the very rich and famous go to detox or simply relax away from fans. “Two Bunch Palms Spa & Resort” for example, is one of the best known spa resorts in the United States and has been mentioned in films, television shows and national media. (Ironically, most if not all of the cannabis industrial farms are located on a street called “Two Bunch Palms”!) 

From outside of these spa resorts, all is nothing but boring desert land, but once inside the oasis…!

With these and other budding industries, DHS has been successful in creating a favorable tax environment that has attracted housing developments with large single homes offered at affordable prices. 

Thus, the transformation of Desert Hot Springs has so begun. Hopefullly it will continue. A second Cinderella it may never be, but our world could use more stepsisters who are ready to atone!

I leave you with one of my favourite shots of our very own Catalina Spa and Resort. Until we meet again CatSpa!

Cataliina Spa and RV Resort… our winter home in 2020 and 2021


  1. With a name like CatSpa how can you go wrong😂. Safe travels! PS I have read some pretty bad reviews about Two Bunch Palms though. Seems like they’ve had a hard time with management and service in the past couple of years….


  2. I sent a Boondockers Welome night there. The views were terrific and my host marvelous. It is nice to know they are trying to fix this area. In some ways it is disappointing because it will no longer be a hidden gem.


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