Palm Desert, California

Coordinates: 33°43′20″N 116°22′28″W / 33.72222°N 116.37444°W / 33.72222; -116.37444
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Palm Desert, California
El Paseo in Palm Desert
El Paseo in Palm Desert
Flag of Palm Desert
Official logo of Palm Desert, California
P. D., Palm Deezy
"Feel The Warmth"
Location of Palm Desert, California
Location of Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California is located in southern California
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California
Location in the United States
Palm Desert, California is located in California
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California (California)
Palm Desert, California is located in the United States
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°43′20″N 116°22′28″W / 33.72222°N 116.37444°W / 33.72222; -116.37444[1]
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedNovember 26, 1973[2]
 • TypeCouncil–manager[3]
 • MayorKarina Quintanilla
 • Mayor Pro TemJan Harnik
 • City CouncilGina Nestande
Evan Trubee
Kathleen Kelly
 • Total27.02 sq mi (69.97 km2)
 • Land26.81 sq mi (69.44 km2)
 • Water0.20 sq mi (0.53 km2)  0.76%
Elevation220 ft (67 m)
 • Total51,163
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,986.98/sq mi (736.85/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
92210, 92211, 92255, 92260, 92261
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-55184
GNIS feature IDs1652767, 2411356

Palm Desert is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, in the Coachella Valley, approximately 14 miles (23 km) east of Palm Springs, 121 miles (195 km) northeast of San Diego and 122 miles (196 km) east of Los Angeles. The population was 51,163 at the 2020 census. The city has been one of the state's fastest growing since 1980, when its population was 11,801.


Palm Desert is located in the ancestral homeland of Cahuilla, a division of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Their bird songs and funeral songs share the oral tradition of how they were present on these lands for over 10,000 years.

The area was first known as the Old MacDonald Ranch, but the name changed to Palm Village in the 1920s when date palms were planted. Local historians said the main residents of pre-1950 Palm Desert were Cahuilla Indian farmers of the now extinct San Cayetano tribe, but a few members of the Montoya family of Cahuilla/Spanish descent were prominent leaders in civic life.

The first residential development occurred in 1943 in connection with an Army maintenance camp in the area. That site was later developed into "El Paseo", an upscale shopping district not unlike Rodeo Drive. In 1948, the Palm Desert Corporation began to develop real estate, and in 1951 the area was given its present name.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.0 square miles (70 km2), of which, 26.8 square miles (69 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (0.76%) is water.

The elevation (City hall) is 224 feet (68 m) above sea level. Elevations vary from the lower northern half once covered in sand dunes to the upper slope southern cove (300–900 feet or 91–274 metres) all the way to the ridgeline at 1,000 feet (300 m). Palm Desert is located in the Coachella Valley, the north-western extension of the Sonoran Desert.

Sun City Palm Desert, California lies on the northern side of Interstate 10 from Palm Desert itself, but is unincorporated and not part of the City of Palm Desert (the original name was Sun City Palm Springs from 1991 to 1996).


The climate of the Coachella Valley is influenced by the surrounding geography. High mountain ranges on three sides and a south-sloping valley floor all contribute to its year-round warm climate, having among the warmest winters in the western United States. Palm Desert has a hot desert climate: Its average annual high temperature is 88 °F (31 °C) and average annual low is 64 °F (18 °C), but summer highs above 108 °F (42 °C) are common and sometimes exceed 120 °F (49 °C), while summer night lows often stay above 82 °F (28 °C). Winters are warm with daytime highs between 70–82 °F (21–28 °C). Under 3 inches (76 mm) of annual precipitation are average, with over 348 days of sunshine per year. The mean annual temperature at 76.0 °F (24.4 °C) makes Palm Desert one of the warmest places in the United States. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Palm Desert was 125 °F (52 °C) on July 6, 1905.[6]

Climate data for Palm Desert, California (Indio Fire STN) elev. 10 feet (3.0 m) (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 97
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 70.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 58.6
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 46.8
Record low °F (°C) 13
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.65

The surrounding mountains create a thermal belt[8] in the southern foothills of Palm Desert, leading to a micro-climate with significantly warmer night-time temperatures during the winter months. The University of California maintains weather stations located in this thermal belt as part of their ecological project in the Philip L. Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center.

Climate data for South Palm Desert, California elev. 980 feet (298.7 m) (Boyd Deep Canyon Ctr) 1981–2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 69.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 60.4
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 51.1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.86


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[10]


The 2010 United States Census[11] reported that Palm Desert had a population of 48,445. The population density was 1,793.3 inhabitants per square mile (692.4/km2). The racial makeup of Palm Desert was 39,957 (82.5%) White (70.4% Non-Hispanic White),[12] 875 (1.8%) African American, 249 (0.5%) Native American, 1,647 (3.4%) Asian, 55 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 4,427 (9.1%) from other races, and 1,235 (2.5%) from two or more races. There were 11,038 residents of Hispanic or Latino origin (22.8%).

The Census reported that 48,137 people (99.4% of the population) lived in households, 98 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 210 (0.4%) were institutionalized.

There were 23,117 households, out of which 4,253 (18.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 10,253 (44.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,177 (9.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 811 (3.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,227 (5.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 373 (1.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 7,948 households (34.4%) were made up of individuals, and 4,370 (18.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08. There were 13,241 families (57.3% of all households); the average family size was 2.65.

The population was spread out, with 7,534 people (15.6%) under the age of 18, 3,333 people (6.9%) aged 18 to 24, 8,731 people (18.0%) aged 25 to 44, 12,924 people (26.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 15,923 people (32.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 53.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.4 males.

There were 37,073 housing units at an average density of 1,372.4 per square mile (529.9/km2), of which 15,171 (65.6%) were owner-occupied, and 7,946 (34.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 16.8%. 30,667 people (63.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 17,470 people (36.1%) lived in rental housing units.

According to the 2010 United States Census, Palm Desert had a median household income of $53,456, with 9.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.[12]


According to the 2000 United States Census[13] of 2000, there were 41,155 people, 19,184 households, and 11,414 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,689.1 inhabitants per square mile (652.2/km2). There were 28,021 housing units at an average density of 1,150.0 per square mile (444.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.8% White, 1.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 2.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 6.5% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.1% of the population.

There are 19,184 households in Palm Desert, out of which 18.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.1 and the average family size was 2.7. The demographics of Palm Desert shows a rising population of children and young adults.

The age distribution of the population was 17.3% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 22.7% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 27.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,000 and the median income for a family was $58,183. Males had a median income of $42,257 versus $32,202 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,463. About 5.9% of families and 9.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.


Top employers[edit]

According to the City's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[14] the top employers in the city are:

No. Employer No. of Employees
1 JW Marriott Desert Springs Golf Resort
Marriott Desert Springs Villas
2 Universal Protection Service 1,500
3 Securitas 700
4 Avida Caregivers 550
5 Organization of Legal Pro's 501
6 Sunshine Landscape 500
7 Costco Wholesale 250
8 Big Horn Golf Club 250
9 Yellow Cab of Desert 160
10 Whole Foods Market 150


Palm Desert is the home of the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, a combination zoo and botanical garden featuring over 500 animals from 150 species over 80 acres. The location also hosts an extensive collection of desert plants with a state-of-the-art animal hospital. Founded in 1970, The Living Desert hosts over 500,000 visitors a year.

Resorts, tennis, and golf clubs[edit]

Desert Willow Golf Course

There are around thirty golf courses throughout the city which has a long history with the sport. Palm Desert is home to hundreds of tennis courts, both public and private. Pickleball has also gained popularity throughout the region in the 2010s and 2020s.

The city's first golf course and tennis club was Shadow Mountain in 1952, followed by Marrakesh in 1954, the Palm Desert Greens mobile home park golf course in 1961, and the Palm Desert Country Club in 1962. The latter, located five miles (8 km) east of the original city, was formally annexed in 1992. The total number of golf clubs (more than 30 located within 10 miles or 16 kilometres from the city) have made Palm Desert known as the "World's Golf Capital."

Desert Willow Golf Resort is the City Of Palm Desert's municipal golf course, and has two championship courses: Mountain View and Firecliff. It is associated with the Westin Desert Willow Resort at the golf course location. The Firecliff course is listed at No. 13 in Golf Magazine's 'Best Courses you can Play' 2010 list for California.

In the late-1970s and 1980s, a spate of private golf clubs, destination resorts and hotels appeared in the northern half of Palm Desert, such as the four-star JW Marriott Desert Springs Golf Resort and Spa[15] in 1987 and the four-star Desert Willow Golf Resort[16] in 2002. The city has over 30 hotels and 5,000 rooms, and lodging and hospitality is a major portion of the local tourist-based economy.


Palm Desert was incorporated as a city in 1973 and designated a charter city in 1997.[3] It operates on a council-manager form of government.[3] Residents of Palm Desert elect five non-partisan council members who serve four-year staggered terms, with elections occurring every two years. Currently the Palm Desert city council is elected through Single transferable voting (proportional ranked-choice voting).[17] The position of mayor is non-elected and rotates annually among the members of the city council. The council serves to pass ordinances, approve budgets, and hire the city manager and city attorney. The city manager oversees administrative operations and the appointment of department heads.

In the California State Legislature, Palm Desert is in the 28th Senate District, represented by Democrat Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, and in the 42nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jacqui Irwin.[18]

In the United States House of Representatives, Palm Desert is in California's 41st congressional district, represented by Republican Ken Calvert.[19]

Public safety[edit]

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department maintains the Palm Desert station which provides contract police services to the municipalities of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Indian Wells, as well as the surrounding unincorporated areas.

The city of Palm Desert contracts for fire and paramedic services with the Riverside County Fire Department through a cooperative agreement with CAL FIRE.[20] Palm Desert currently has three fire stations, which are Station 33 (Town Center), Station 67 (Mesa View), and Station 71 (North Palm Desert). Each fire station provides an engine company and a paramedic ambulance. Fire station 33 also has a truck company.


CSUSB Palm Desert Campus

Palm Desert is the site for the main campus of College of the Desert, a community college, which has expanded greatly in size since the campus opened in 1962. One of the buildings was built by donations from the local Cahuilla Indian tribal nations. The University of California, Riverside also has an extension learning center in the city.

California State University, San Bernardino first opened its Palm Desert campus in 1986, followed by its own stand-alone, 169 acre campus located on Cook Street in 2002. The Palm Desert Campus is a complete university with over 40 undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, and credential programs offered as the only full-service public school of higher education in the Coachella Valley.[21]

The primary high school is Palm Desert High School (with 2200 students) which is part of the Desert Sands Unified School District. The main Middle School (with 1100 students) is Palm Desert Middle School, a charter school. The four elementary schools in the city are: George Washington Charter, Abraham Lincoln, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The northernmost part of Palm Desert is served by the Palm Springs Unified School District, so the students can attend Rancho Mirage High School[22] in Rancho Mirage, or Nellie Coffman Middle School and Cathedral City High School in Cathedral City, California. Some students in the eastside are zoned to La Quinta High School and Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle School.

The Riverside County Department of Education operates San Cayetano Community School, a grade 1 to 12 educational facility. Palm Desert has 8 private schools in the immediate area: Desert Adventist Academy, Palm Desert Presbyterian School, Sacred Heart Catholic Academy, The Palm Valley School, the Learning Tree Academy, Xavier College Preparatory High School (Catholic-Jesuit), the Hope Academy,[23] and the Desert Torah Academy, a Jewish community school and its social recreational Jewish Community Center. It also has meetings by the Jewish Federation of the Desert based in Palm Springs,[24] serving an estimated 35,000 Jewish people in the Coachella Valley.



Electricity in Palm Desert is served by Southern California Edison.


Modern transportation services include:

Highways include:

I-10Interstate 10 runs north of the city.
SR 74 – The Pines to Palms Scenic Byway (California State Route 74) runs from the coast, over the San Jacinto Mountains and has its eastern terminus at Highway 111 in Palm Desert before continuing northbound as Monterey Avenue.
SR 111California State Route 111, which passes through the city.


Palm Desert has 14 city parks:[25]

  • Cahuilla Hills Park
  • Cap Homme/ Ralph Adams Park
  • Civic Center Park
  • Community Gardens
  • Freedom Park
  • Hovley Soccer Park
  • Ironwood Park
  • Joe Mann Park
  • Magnesia Falls City Park
  • Palm Desert Dog Park
  • Palma Village Park
  • University Dog Park
  • University Park East
  • Washington Charter School Park

South of Palm Desert is the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument,[26] and north of Palm Desert is the Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge.


The Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City is maintained by the Palm Springs Cemetery District.[27] Also in Cathedral City is the Forest Lawn Cemetery, maintained by Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries.


  • Desert ARC Italian Festival[28]
  • Greek Festival[29]
  • Armenian Festival[30]
  • CanadaFest[31]
  • Scottish Festival[32]


Notable people[edit]

Many celebrities keep homes in Palm Desert, including Rita Rudner and more recently, the current home of professional golfer Michelle Wie and one of the homes of Bill Gates. Legendary actress Anne Francis resided in a condominium until July 2000. Film producer Jerry Weintraub called it his second home before he died. Artist Phillip K. Smith III calls Palm Desert home and his studio is in Palm Desert.

The city is home to the Palm Desert Scene, a musical genre that has been heavily influential internationally since the early 1990s. Many of the Palm Desert bands are credited for starting the rock/metal subgenre known as stoner rock. Bands including Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Eagles of Death Metal have become well known rock bands.[34]

Sister cities[edit]

Palm Desert had been in the sister cities program, as designated by Sister Cities International. Six to nine cities that are or were associated with Palm Desert:

Palm Desert has a community exchange program with

Also a community exchange relationship with the major city of Concepcion, Chile.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Palm Desert". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  2. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on November 3, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "About Palm Desert". Our City. City Of Palm Desert. 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "QuickFacts Palm Desert city, California". United States Census Bureau.
  6. ^ "Indio Fire Station, California – Climate Summary".
  7. ^ NOAA. "1991–2020 Monthly Normals for Indio CA Fire STN". NOAA. Retrieved June 8, 2022.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Unit 3: Topography & Fire Behavior — Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare". Archived from the original on November 24, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  9. ^ University of California. "Weather Data at Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center". University of California; Temperatures normalized for period from 1981-2010. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Palm Desert city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Palm Desert (city) QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on September 1, 2012.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ "City of Palm Desert CAFR 2019".
  15. ^ "Palm Desert Hotels – JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa". Marriott.
  16. ^ "Desert Willow Golf Resort". Archived from the original on February 21, 2008.
  17. ^ "Opinion: New Bay Area ranked choice voting system worked, should be California model". January 14, 2023.
  18. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  19. ^ "California's 41st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  20. ^ "Service Area".
  21. ^ "History | Palm Desert Campus | CSUSB".
  22. ^ "Rancho Mirage High School". Rancho Mirage High School.
  23. ^ "".
  24. ^ "Home".
  25. ^ "City of Palm Desert : Our Parks".
  26. ^ "BLM California: Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument". October 2, 2015. Archived from the original on January 26, 2009.
  27. ^ "Palm Springs Cemetery District – Desert Memorial Park and Welwood Murray Cemetery".
  28. ^ "DesertArc | Italian Festival".
  29. ^ "Greek Festival ~ Palm Desert".
  30. ^ "2017 Armenian Cultural Festival – St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert".
  31. ^ "Desert's Canada Fest expands its reach to snowbirds". Desert Sun.
  32. ^ "Scottish Festival". November 5, 2013.
  33. ^ "Google Maps".
  34. ^ Teri van Horn (November 12, 1998). "Queens of the Stone Age at Home in Desert". MTV News. Retrieved May 7, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • Geyer, Barbara L. (1962). Geology of the Palm Desert Region, Riverside County. San Diego, CA: California State University. pp. 19 [3]. LCC QE90 R5 G4
  • Historical Society of Palm Desert; Rover, Hal; Kousken, Kim; Romer, Brett (2009). Palm Desert. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7385-5964-3.

External links[edit]