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Palm Springs International Airport (Where Gumbo was #377)


I’d driven to Palm Springs a number of times in the mid ‘80s but hadn’t flown in for several years before that. I arrived from Northern California this year on March 10th, after debating with myself and the friends I was visiting if it was a wise thing to do. But it’s hard to cancel long-planned reunions so I proceeded, though I cannot deny being somewhat concerned.

Above, in front of the terminal entrance, the fountain on the original approach to the airport with the San Jacinto Mountains in the background.

On arrival at Palm Springs International Airport, serving all the communities of Southern California’s Coachella Valley, I was amazed and very impressed by the changes. I was so intrigued that, even though it’s a small airport, I got lost on my way to baggage claim, too busy taking it all in. This was my kind of place, a garden masquerading as an airport.


During my stay in town I promised myself that on my return to the airport on March 14th I’d record it for myself and Mr. Gumbo, leaving plenty of time to wander and enjoy it as much as I did the places that are actually called gardens.


There’s a new approach from the east called Kirk Douglas Way, though I recognized the fountain that still marks the original Tahquitz Canyon Way entrance from downtown Palm Springs. Its new incarnation aside, one of the best things about Palm Springs’ airport is it’s proximity to town. I liked it way back when and I especially liked it this visit, knowing better these days what journeys getting to airports can be from their towns and cities.


"Bighorn Institute initiated the public art project, Path of the Bighorn, in 2002, in an effort to educate the public about the plight of the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep. . . Today, 33 of these sculptures are in permanent, public locations that can be enjoyed for years to come."

The original terminal houses check-in desks, baggage claim and security. Heading for the gates one passes through security then right outside again to the most pleasant outdoor space I’ve ever experienced in an airport. Where else is a secure airport facility located outdoors, behind fairly modest walls? I’m sure there must be others but I’ve never seen them. Two buildings reached by walking through the garden areas house the gates, plus 2 smaller ones for restaurants and restrooms.



Between puttering and picture taking I bought myself a coffee and sat on a bench to enjoy the desert garden ambiance. The central courtyard and path to Gates 12-20 are open to the sky and the pavement was damp, causing me to wonder what it might be like walking to baggage claim in a downpour. But this is a desert, people flock to “The Desert” because it’s almost always warm and dry. So I guess the designers just decided to take a chance. There aren’t many places in the world where this could happen and I imagine there are few days when travelers must pause for a cooling desert shower on arrival in paradise.

George G followed the clues & identified our mystery location on Saturday.


Eleven airlines serving Palm Springs International Airport have flown non-stop flights from many North American cities, including 5 Canadian. Hence the designation “international”. See “Airlines and Destinations” on the website below for current information.



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Excellent photos! For  years, I have been disappointed with LAX, despite it's excellent location, and wanted to try flying into Palm Springs for my visits to Southern California. You have convinced me this is the way to go since I usually include Palm Springs in my visits anyway.

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