San Andreas Fault Tours
Read MoreShow Less
Running down the state of California, from Cape Mendocino to the Mexican border, the San Andreas Fault forms a continuous, narrow break in the Earth's crust between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. Seismologists predict that the fault will eventually cause the "big one": a 7.0+ magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.
At just over 28,000 years old, the San Andreas Fault is still growing at a rate of 2.5 inches (64 millimeters) per year, constantly reshaping California. The fault is divided into three distinct zones, each of which can be visited: the northern part via the Pinnacles National Park, the central part at the San Andreas Fault Observatory in Parkfield, and the southern part from the San Bernardino Mountains to the San Gabriel Mountains.
Open-air Jeep tours head out to the Palm Desert to explore the fault, as well as the oasis and hot springs it created.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Desert temperatures can fluctuate drastically, so dress in layers if you’re heading to Palm Desert on a tour.
- Wear sneakers or hiking boots to climb around the fault area.
- Be sure to apply sunblock, wear a hat, and bring water.
- Almost all traces of a crack in the earth along the fault line were erased by the 1906 earthquake that leveled San Francisco; what remain now are geological rock formations.
How to Get There
The southern part of the fault begins near the San Bernardino Mountains, just outside of Los Angeles, and runs east to the San Gabriel Mountains, with Palm Springs being the best place to explore the fault. Palm Springs is located about an hour and 45 minutes southeast of LA. Tours typically begin at a location in Palm Desert, not Palm Springs.
When to Get There
If you’re planning to head out to Palm Desert to tour the fault area, book your trip between January and April, when the weather is the most pleasant. During the summer, temperatures regularly rise above 100 degrees. If you want to explore the northern section at Pinnacles National Park, which is near Big Sur, aim for some time between September and November for optimum weather conditions.
Named for the Joshua trees that are native to the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is located near San Bernardino and Palm Springs. The protected area boasts plenty of outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, rock climbing, and birding, and many tour companies offer rides in 4WD vehicles, to explore the park and its wildlife.
6 Tours and Activities to Experience San Andreas Fault
Nature and Wildlife
Explore the geology around California’s legendary San Andreas fault during a Jeep tour from Palm Desert. See a desert oasis fed by an underground spring as your naturalist guide describes how the Native American Cahuilla tribe used the desert's plants for food, medicine, and shelter. Marvel at steep-walled canyons and tall twisted rock mountains, and learn about the plant and animal life of the area. Choose from a morning or afternoon tour that includes light snacks, bottled water, and round-trip transport from Palm Desert.
Stand above a gaping rift in the earth’s crust on a Hummer tour that goes deep into California’s rugged desert terrain. Enjoy sweeping views from your open-air truck as you leave Palm Desert for the San Andreas Fault, and learn about the area’s extraordinary history and geology from your guide. Look down into some of the world’s oldest ravines, watch for bighorn sheep and golden eagles as you explore the back roads of Berdoo Canyon, then take a short hike through the heart of a vast palm oasis.
Learn about California's geology and desert wilderness on a half-day Jeep tour to the San Andreas Fault. Drive through the Coachella Valley to the fault zone while hearing from your guide about native plant and animal life, local history, the Salton Sea, and earthquakes. Depending on your preference, you can take a nature walk in the desert or stay in the vehicle. You'll also stop by a date farm where you can try their signature date milkshake. Includes guide, transportation, and light refreshments.
Nature and Wildlife
Enjoy an evening of stargazing in the California desert on this guided small-group tour from Palm Desert. Explore a private, 800-acre preserve on the San Andreas Fault and learn about the desert’s plants, animals, history, geology and earthquakes in an open-air Jeep. Then examine the dark, starry sky with a hand-held tracking device. Granola snacks, bottled water, and a pickup and drop-off from select Palm Desert hotels are included.
Explore a shady oasis and rugged canyons on a Hummer adventure that goes deep into Joshua Tree’s arid landscape. Leave Palm Desert and hold on tight as your guide takes you through the park’s back roads, and enjoy sweeping views from the truck’s open top. Walk through the heart of a vast oasis, and learn about the settlers and Cahuilla Indians that lived in this harsh environment; watch for golden eagles and bighorn sheep as you navigate Berdoo canyon then discover ancient stands of bristling Joshua trees.
Mountain Bike Tours
Take a leisurely bike ride in the desert. This guided mountain bike tour will take you down a gentle grade along the San Andreas Fault where the Mojave Desert transitions into the Colorado Desert. Enjoy beautiful views of the desert landscape as you pedal along the paved path. The tour concludes with a rest stop at a date farm where you can try a date shake.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience San Andreas Fault ?
Things to do near Palm Springs
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Carlsbad
- Things to do in La Jolla
- Things to do in Newport Beach
- Things to do in Anaheim & Buena Park
- Things to do in San Diego
- Things to do in Long Beach
- Things to do in Los Angeles
- Things to do in Catalina Island
- Things to do in Santa Monica
- Things to do in Ensenada
- Things to do in Las Vegas
- Things to do in Santa Barbara
- Things to do in Baja California
- Things to do in Arizona