CABOT'S PUEBLO MUSEUM | DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA
Updated: Jan 23
If you're in the Palm Springs area and want to take a break from drinking gin cocktails or flaunting your Coachella outfit, I've got the place for you.
Desert Hot Springs is a 20-30 minute drive from Palm Desert, and is most known for its hot and cold mineral springs. Boutique hotels have popped up that can balance your chakras, detox your soul, and provide ultimate relaxation. If you have problems sitting still like me, there are other ways to ease your mind and find solace in the company of nature.
Cabot's Pueblo Museum does just that. In 1913, Cabot Yerxa homesteaded 160 acres in the (now) Desert Hot Springs area. Upon discovering the hot and cold mineral springs, he dubbed the location Miracle Hill. He saw great potential in the landscape, and from 1941-1950 built a 35-room structure using only found and repurposed materials. He was well-traveled, had outrageous design thinking skills, and possessed what I think was a dash of insanity (or is it genius?).
As someone who has ultimate respect for cultural intelligence, Cabot Yerxa's story is inspiring. He lived among several groups of Native Americans, learned their languages, and hosted them in his home. He even arranged to keep some floors as dirt, so guests could keep a connection to the earth.
Here are some pointers to get you on your way:
Parking: There are several parking lots on site, it shouldn't be a problem.
Clothing: While I didn't see any snakes, there are signs that say there could be rattlesnakes. I would wear close-toed shoes. There are also some funky stairs, so I would wear shorts instead of a skirt to avoid giving any fellow tour goers a show.
Bring a Water Bottle: It gets pretty hot in the building. And it's the desert.
Tours: The outside of the building and gardens is always open, but if you want a tour I would buy tickets online ahead of time ($11-$13) as they can only hold 14 people at a time. You can buy/pick up tickets at the Trading Post. Our tour met in the Main Courtyard (right outside the Trading Post).
Expectations: You will not be able to go into every room in the house. Even the tour guides haven't seen every room in the house. If you're a member, I believe there are some special events where you can see additional parts of the building.
Time: Tours are about 60 minutes long, but I would plan for another 45-60 minutes to explore the surrounding buildings and property.
Accessibility: There are chairs in most of the rooms for sitting during the tour, but the house wasn't built with ADA in mind. There are narrow/uneven stairs and doorways to navigate.
Bathrooms: Yes, they have actual bathrooms near the parking lot.
Good for Kids?: I think parts of this tour may be a little long-winded for children under 10. That being said, they offer tours to school groups which sound a lot more wholistic and engaging.
Cabot built a few apartments and invited artists to stay and work at the Pueblo. Some of their artwork is still present around the property.
Artist: Peter Toth
The Waokiye was carved on site in 1978, and is part of a larger collection called "Trail of the Whispering Giants". This one is 43 feet tall, and is carved from a fallen sequoia. The feather is made from an incense cedar, and is 15 feet tall. There is at least one in every state, and several spread across Canada.
Typography Appreciation Gallery:
Upon leaving Cabot's I felt a sense of wonder and appreciation for this seemingly quirky man who saw potential in the desert. My ~deep~ thoughts upon leaving: Everything you experience is potential inspiration, everything you see is a potential canvas.
If all of this learning has left you craving noms, there are a lot of restaurants near the museum:
Best Cheap Eats - Windmill Market and Produce
Try the date shake! Food to-go, or sit on the back patio.
17080 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
Best Southwestern + Vegetarian - South of the Border
Growing up in NC this made me shudder, but don't worry it's not that SOTB.
Try the margaritas! They serve breakfast on weekends, too.
11719 Palm Dr.
Best for Feeling Fancy - Capri Italian
Located inside the Miracle Springs Resort + Spa. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
10625 Palm Dr.
If you're visiting the Palm Springs area, I would recommend visiting Cabot's. It's totally unique, affordable, and inspiring. If you're a local, a membership costs $35/year and you get invited to member-only events throughout the year. Buying a ticket or a membership helps support the Cabot's Museum Foundation's mission: "To promote and preserve Cabot Yerxa's legacy of cultural respect, education, art, community, and the desert landscape."