Most visitors to Palm Springs are there for the climate and the golf. But the roads around the desert hideaway are some of America’s most remarkable. If you’re in the area without one, rent or borrow a motorcycle to enjoy the sweet curves, high desert landscape, and mountain views of the Palms to Pines Highway. Then continue on the Ortega Highway through the Santa Ana Mountains to San Juan Capistrano, via Lake Elsinore. Highway 74 turns south, rising from Highway 111 in Palm Desert, 15 miles southeast of Palm Springs, and snakes wildly across the face of the San Jacinto Mountains in a series of blissful sweepers and smooth turns. Semitrailers are not recommended—which is a blessing!
Pull into the Palm Desert overlook to enjoy magnificent views across the Coachella Valley, which are even more spectacular at dusk. Spinning past the Santa Rosa Mountains, 74 winds around rocky, undulating terrain before exiting into broad, flat Paradise Valley.