If Desert Gold had a mascot or a spirit animal, the desert bighorn would be a natural choice — pictured above is another form of Bighorn: a Seattle hair band from the 70s. For the real thing, it’s not that there isn’t plenty of competition out here for mascots — we’ve got roadrunners, rattlers, coyotes and mountain lions. But none can best the bighorn for pure animalized rock n’ roll. They negotiate the rocky terrain of the Coachella Valley sporting massive horns cool as a cucumber — their magisterial cadence makes the nimblest human athletes look all left feet.
If you have a chance to catch one in wild while you’re here, you can almost imagine last year’s apparition of Tupac shirtless astride a bighorn, du-rag tied in front, ascending to Thug Heaven. To catch a bighorn in action, you have multiple options. James R. DeForge, Executive Director and Research Biologist at the Bighorn Institute says, “Two of the best places we can recommend to see bighorn sheep near the Coachella Valley are the Whitewater Preserve and Barker Dam in Joshua Tree. They’ve been seen year-round at both locations.” The water pooled at Barker Dam is a draw for all manner of thirsty wildlife, and you can also check out ancient Native American petroglyphs (including pictorials of you guessed who) a short walk away. And you’ve probably heard of Joshua Tree — that’s where bighorns make frequent cameos in ancient rock paintings.
In Palm Springs proper, you’re best option is Indian Canyons, where Peninsular bighorns are occasionally spotted by vigilant sheep-watchers. If you go that route, stop over at the Amigo Room on your way back and we’ll gladly tell regale and be regaled by tales of bighorn encounters.
So for phantom-of-Pac’s sake, pack some binoculars and some trail mix when you come to town. There’s real rock ‘n roll in these hills out here.