Desert Hot Springs, CA

City Desert Hot SpringsLocals refer to Desert Hot Springs as DHS. The city is located within the Coachella Valley geographic region, sometimes referred to as the Desert Empire. The population was 16,582 at the 2000 United States Census. Rapid development and high population growth since the 1970s when there were 2,500 to 6,000 residents brought the city to an estimated 25,000 residents in the year 2008.


In 1913 the first homesteader in the area was Cabot Yerxa, who discovered hot water on Miracle Hill. Due to the San Andreas Fault bisecting the hill, one side has cold water, the other has hot. His large adobe, now one of Desert Hot Springs most popular attractions, was hand built by Yerxa over 20 years.  It is now one of the oldest adobe structures in Riverside County, and houses Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, designated a state historical site after his death in 1965. Cabot’s Trading Post & Gallery opened in February 2008.

The town was founded by L. W. Coffee on July 12, 1941. The original town site was centered at the intersection of Palm Drive and Pierson Boulevard and was only one square mile. The name Desert Hot Springs refers to the many hot  springs located in the city.

Desert Hot Springs became a tourist destination in the 1950s because of its small spa hotels and boutique hotels. The city’s seclusion appealed to urban “escapees.”  Two Bunch Palms Resort is a legendary resort in DHS.

Realtors arrived to speculate and thousands of lots and streets were laid out over a six square mile area. Some homes were bought by retirees and the area incorporated as a city in 1963, with 1,000 residents.

Desert Hot Springs experienced periods of significant growth in the 1980s and 1990s, when most of the vacant lots were filled with new houses and duplex apartments. The city’s population doubled in the 1980s and increased by 5,000 in the 2000 census.

In 1993, a 3-star hotel, Mirage Springs Hotel Resort opened in DHS. Despite good reviews and providing much needed financial revenue to DHS, Mirage Springs closed its doors in 1998. Another hotel, the Miracle Springs Resort and Spa, has since occupied the site.

Desert Hot Springs High School opened in 1999, two new public parks and several country clubs were proposed.

Desert Hot Springs Area Arts, Culture & Entertainment

The greater area is rich in arts, entertainment and culture.  The following are all withing a short drive of Cathedral City and are shared by all of the desert communities.

  • The McCallum Theater has gained acclaim as one of the country’s finest presenting theaters by audiences, entertainers and peers alike.  It is a state-of-the-art performing arts center whose vision it is to enhance and enrich the lives of desert residents by making the performing arts available to as many people as possible.  This is a must see venue.
  • Art Galleries-  The area is rich in art and artists.  This has created the need for lots of art galleries.  A list can be found HERE.
  • Theater- Palm Springs is home to wonderful small theater.  From The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies to The Palm Canyon Theater and The Camelot Theaters for Indy Films, Cat City and the surrounding area has it all.  And don’t forget the great movie venues including an IMAX that hosts the best in large format films.  Also well known is the Annenburg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Desert Hot Springs Area Colleges

Nearby Palm Desert is home to CSU San Bernardino at Palm Desert, CA and The College Of The Desert.  Both schools are well recognized for their curriculum that are useful for continuing and degree education and schools for the trades.

Desert Hot Springs Area Hospitals

Nearby in Palm Springs is Desert Regional Medical Center.  In Rancho Mirage is Eisenhower Medical Center along with the Betty Ford Clinic and the Lucy Curci Cancer Center.  Additionally Eisenhower has medical clinics around the desert including one in Cathedral City.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.3 square miles, of which, 23.2 square miles of it is land and 0.04 square miles of it is water. DHS is known for its spectacular views looking back across the valley to the mountains West and South of the city.


A unique geological fact about Desert Hot Springs, is that the city is situated atop one of the finest natural hot mineral water aquifers in America.  No spring is visible because each spring is capped by either a hotel or Mission Springs Water District. The many mineral hot springs contribute significantly to the local tourism industry. DHS is located at the Morongo Canyon Runoff, Morongo Basin. There are an incredible number of  electrical wind farm windmills, or aerogenerators, San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, just slightly southwest of the city, adjacent to North Palm Springs, & Whitewater.

Guests at various hotels and spas can enjoy the soothing naturally occurring hot mineral water that is pumped up from the depths of the earth. Desert Hot Springs is a popular exclusive retreat for celebrities seeking the comfort of modern resort life. The city also boasts pure and delicious award-winning drinking water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 16,582 people, 5,859 households, and 3,755 families residing in the city. The population density was 713.2 people per square mile. There were 7,034 housing units at an average density of 302.5 per square mile.

There were 5,859 households out of which 38.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.8 and the average family size was 3.5.

In Desert Hot Springs the age of the population was spread out with 33.3% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 16.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males. Desert Hot Springs has a reputation as an active adult community, where many retirees choose to live.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,987, and the median income for a family was $29,126. Males had a median income of $27,873 versus $21,935 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,954. With 15.0% of those age 65 or over this is one of the highest for cities over 10,000 in southern California.

Desert Hot Springs has a diverse population for a city its size. Several racial or ethnic groups live in Desert Hot Springs, with the largest group of Mexican and Central American ancestry. Ethnic areas such as the Korean American section of 8th Street and Cholla Drive, thousands of American Jews made the city their home, and according to the Desert Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the city’s population is over 10 percent black. The city has a high proportion of Native Americans, most of whom are members of the Cahuilla tribe in proximity to the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribal board in Palm Springs (see also Mission Creek Indian Reservation).

Public safety

The Desert Hot Springs Police Department was established in 1997. The police department is headed by Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Patrick Williams who was hired in 2006. Williams in credited with a significant drop in the city’s crime rate. Desert Hot Springs is unique among California cities in that it has continued to hire sworn police officers while other California cities are cutting reducing their police forces over budget concerns. The city has hired 12 additional officers in the last two years (2009/2010).

In two separate municipal ballot measures, Desert Hot Springs residents approved a utility users tax and a public safety tax by majorities of over 75 percent. Both measures provide added funding to the police department and other public safety services.

The City contracts out for fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS) with the Riverside County Fire Department through a cooperative agreement with CAL FIRE California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Riverside County Fire Station 37 has 1 paramedic engine company. Riverside County Fire Station 36 covers the west end of the city with a paramedic engine company.

Boutique hotels and spas

Desert Hot Springs is home to a number of hot mineral water spas. During the 1950s and 1960s the town had over 80 spa hotels, often called “spa-tels.” From the late 1990s to the present a number of these boutique hotels have been renovated and revived. With their mid-century modern architecture give the spa-goer a unique experience.

One famous spa hotel property in Desert Hot Springs is Two Bunch Palms Resort. In the 1990s it appeared in the movie The Player.

Other spas in Desert Hot Springs include Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, Bella Monte Hot Springs Resort and Spa, Miracle Manor Retreat, The Miracle Springs Resort and Spa, the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel and The Spring Resort and Spa.

In 2008, two Desert Hot Springs spas were listed on Tripadvisor’s list of top ten “Best Hidden Gem” spas: El Morocco Inn and Spa and the Living Waters Spa.

In 2009, two Desert Hot Springs spas were listed on Tripadvisor’s list of top ten “Best Hidden Gem” and “Best Service” spas: Sagewater Spa, and the Living Waters Spa.

Most spa hotel property in Desert Hot Springs feature natural hot mineral water that is unique in that it has no sulphfer odor as is common at other hot springs type resorts.

Modernist architecture

Originally, there were 43 small spas (6 to 10 guest rooms) in the city. Some were located atop the center of the hot water aquifer on miracle hill.  Miracle Manor Retreat is one of the first spas built (1949) in the town and the first on miracle hill. It was built by the Martin Family who eventually sold it in 1981 to a local legend Lois Blackhill. Upon her passing in 1996, her family sold it in 1997, to two longtime regulars and close friends of Lois’ trans-media designer April Greiman and architect-educator Michael Rotondi. It was restored to its original state and renamed Miracle Manor Retreat. They are credited with pioneering the ’boutique spa’ movement in the city. Desert Hot Springs is the home of the Desert Hot Springs Hotel, designed by architect John Lautner. The hotel was purchased and restored in 2000 by Steven Lowe.

In 2006 the architectural firm of Marmol Radziner + Associates designed a spectacular  sustainable, modernist prefab home featured in the November 2006 issue of Dwell magazine. The home served as a prototype for the firm’s efforts to develop a series of prefab homes.

Other links of Interest

Information About Buying or Selling Palm Springs Area Real Estate

Buying or Selling in today’s real estate market is a challenge and a process that is easily accomplished with the help of a Real Estate professional. You will need an expert who has lived in the desert and knows the lifestyle and the unique housing market.

The market in the Greater Palm Springs Area is alive and the values are exceptional for those who are looking for an ideal investment or a vacation/retirement property. We have many choices for every need, budget and amenity list.

Is to be your primary residence? We have what it takes to get you settled into a great family home in the neighborhood of your choice.

Selling your home in the Greater Palm Springs Area? I will make the experience easy, friendly and professional. Our mission is to provide outstanding service while utilizing the best practices and Internet technology available.

If you are plan to rent your new home, we have the staff partners who will assist with any project or property management while you are away from the property.

Following links are to area Bio’s and searches:

For more information on how I can best serve your Greater Palm Springs area needs, please fill out the online contact form give us a call at 760-413-2871.

I won’t just sell you a house but I WILL help you find the home you will LOVE!

lggrey-for-website-150x150Ron is a Greater Palm Springs Area Realtor® specializing in Palm Springs vacation homesinvestment properties in Palm Springs and primary single-family Palm Springs Homes for Sale. He has the long term knowledge necessary to make the buying and selling of Greater Palm Springs Area real estate a smooth enjoyable process.


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