Pine to Palms scenic byway, California, USA
Palm Desert has always been a playground for the rich and famous. People from all over the USA flock to this jewel in the desert for the winter months, bringing their high-performance cars with them.
The most scenic and by far the most enjoyable way to Palm Desert is via the Pines to Palms scenic byway. Taking CA Highway 79 South from the city of Temecula, you slowly begin the climb up into the mountains.
Continue past Vail Lake Resort, where you come upon a larger-than-life ‘Old West’ stage coach. The rusty steel sculpture is impossible to miss, and is testament to the role this area played in the history of the Wild West.
Enjoy 13 miles of Highway 79 until you come to CA-371 E/Cahuilla Road in Aguanga. Take an immediate left at the stop, and follow the signs to the Palm Desert.
Continue on 371 for 20-plus miles through the town of Anza until you come upon Highway 74, and turn right towards Palm Desert. Initially, the road is deceptively mellow; take your eyes off it at your own peril.
Hold your breath, loosen the grip on your steering wheel, and enjoy what is surely one of the best drives you will ever have!
Accelerating up in to the San Bernardino National Forest provides you with a plethora of scenic views. As you continue your ascent through the Santa Rosa mountains, the road significantly narrows, and the switchbacks come at you fast and furiously.
Latitude: 33.5033 N, 33.7256 N
Length of drive: 60 miles approx.
Points of interest:
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains;
National Monument Visitors Center
51500 Highway 74, Palm Desert, 92260
Food and accommodation:
Tommy Bahamas restaurant and store
73-595 El Paseo, Palm Desert 92260
Embassy Suites Palm Desert
74-700 Highway 111, Palm Desert, 92260
The descent is nothing short of spectacular. Below you will see the highway as it winds down the mountain. Further off, you may be able to glimpse the Salton Sea. On a very clear day it is said that mountain tops in Mexico are visible!
The ultra-smooth road into Palm Desert leads you to the 111 Highway. Within moments you pass the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument before arriving at the ‘Rodeo Drive’ of the El Paseo Drive.
Turn right, and you will possibly see every make of supercar. You and your 911 will be at home in this diamond in the desert.