Introducing: Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs, California
Perched atop a hillside with panoramic views of the Coachella Valley, the San Jacinto, and the San Bernardino Mountain ranges, this handbuilt homage to Hopi Indian-style pueblos is the result of the work and vision of Cabot Yerxa. An artist, writer, builder, traveler, adventurer, and Native American rights activist, Cabot was a homesteader in 1913 who discovered hot and cold water aquifers on his land that would lead to the development of Desert Hot Springs as a mineral spa resort.
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum includes the 5,000-square-foot pueblo, several smaller wooden and adobe-style buildings, native plant gardens, stunning views, and a 43-foot-tall Native American head carved out of a giant Sequoia tree. Waokiye – meaning “traditional helper” in the Lakota language – was made onsite by the artist Peter Wolf Toth in 1978 as part of his series Trail of the Whispering Giants. Out of 74 sculptures, this is the only one in California.
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is free to visit. You can explore the grounds and learn about Cabot and Desert Hot Springs through a small exhibit in one of the original buildings and a film shown in the Trading Post, which also offers books and crafts by local artists for sale.
The pueblo interior is only accessible by scheduled guided tour, which is well worth the price of admission (currently $13), with enthusiastic docents leading small groups through several rooms of the pueblo, including Cabot’s original museum with photos and artifacts from his travels, and his own artwork. The tour lasts about an hour and is full of interesting stories. Tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and tour sizes are limited so it is best to arrive early, especially on weekends or during events in the Palm Springs area. Check the museum’s website for operation hours and tour times.
While Palm Springs may be best known for its mid-century modern architecture, manicured golf courses, and poolside parties, there is also a vibrant arts scene to explore.
The Palm Springs Art Museum downtown has a rich collection of Southwestern art as well as world class modern paintings and sculptures. The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is a smaller outpost, with rotating exhibits and a surprisingly peaceful sculpture garden, given its location in a busy shopping area.
Further afield, Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum is a great place to include in a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
If you find yourself in the Palm Springs area between now and April 30, 2017 you can explore Desert X, a curated exhibit of site-specific work throughout the Coachella Valley.
Read more about Cabot Yerxa and his Pueblo Museum.