San Andreas Fault Tours

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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.
 
The Basics
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.
 
Joshua Tree
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.
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4 Tours & Activities to Experience

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San Andreas Fault Small-Group Jeep Tour from Palm Desert

Explore the geology around California’s legendary San Andreas fault during a guided 3-hour 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 after tour that includes light snacks, bottled water and round-trip transport from Palm Desert hotels.
  • Duration: 3 hours
From
USD139.00
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  • Duration: 3 hours
From
USD139.00

San Andreas Fault Hummer Tour

Stand above a gaping rift in the earth’s crust on a 3-hour 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 30-minute hike through the heart of a vast palm oasis.
  • Duration: 3 hours
From
USD149.00
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  • Duration: 3 hours
From
USD149.00

Joshua Tree Hummer Adventure from Palm Desert

Explore a shady oasis and rugged canyons on a 4-hour 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.
  • Duration: 5 hours
From
USD189.00
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  • Duration: 5 hours
From
USD189.00

Joshua Tree National Park SUV or Van Tour

Explore the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park by SUV or van on a 5-hour tour from Palm Springs. Drive over the San Andreas Fault and up steep canyons to scenic viewpoints, and take a guided hike to Hidden Valley. You'll learn from your guide about the history and wildlife of the high and low desert, and get great photo ops of the sculpture-like rock formations.
  • Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
From
USD200.00
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  • Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
From
USD200.00

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