Fodor's Expert Review Smoke Tree Ranch

1850 Smoke Tree La., Palm Springs, California 92264, United States See on Map

This retreat, spread across 375 acres, is a collection of 49 guest house cottages. Located just outside of downtown Palm Springs, Smoke Tree Ranch is surrounded by the hiking trails and mountain vistas of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, but easily accessible from town. In operation since 1936, the resort has a storied reputation and long history; descendants of previous inhabitants, referred to as “colonists,” continue to live and vacation in privately owned cottages also on the property.


The elegant cottages range from studios to multi-bedroom or family units and include Wi-Fi, refrigerators and private patios. Some cottages contain kitchens, but most guests opt to add on a meal plan to dine hassle-free at the Ranch House Dining Room. Decor is simple but classic and most cottages have wood-burning fireplaces.


Some units have been updated and others have plain, older bathrooms, but all have indoor plumbing and modern conveniences.


After entering the private gate and coming up the drive, guests will enter the Ranch House to find not only the lobby, but also entertainment areas like a lounge and card room, a library and a writing room, meeting space, and the dining room.


The pool is allegedly Olympic-sized and the area also includes a bounty of lounge chairs and a hot tub.


There’s a full-service spa on the property where guests can book facials, massages, and nail care. In-cottage treatments can also be arranged.


Smoke Tree Ranch has a fitness center, croquet lawn, lawn bowling green, basketball court, nine tennis courts, a three-hole golf course, and the Smoke Tree Stables, where guests can enjoy trail rides through one of the surrounding canyons.


The Dining Room and Lounge includes a screened porch. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served for specific time intervals. Lunch and dinner are casual dress, but elegant resort or casual wear (e.g. no shorts, collared shirts) is required for dinner service. Outdoor dining is also available.


Cocktails and wine are available in the Ranch House Dining Room and Lounge during meal service hours. There’s also a nightly bar service in the Kiva, next to the pool.


Getting Around

For $25, the ranch will provide transportation to and from Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) during daytime hours and with 48-hour notice. Most cottages have their own carports and all have free parking.


Though the Ranch House provides a terrific option, especially with the meal-plan add-on, nearby Mr. Lyons (5-minute drive) is a delightful modern steakhouse. If the kids are craving pizza, Guiseppe’s Pizza & Pasta (3-minute drive) is a locals favorite.


Swanky cocktails await you at Seymour’s (5-minute drive), while the Tonga Hut (12-minute drive) is a modern tiki bar that embraces the old school tiki craft.


This family-oriented ranch gives guests opportunities to explore the outdoors in both manicured settings (tennis, pool) and the wild yonder (hikes, horseback rides). The emphasis on communal dining is a nice touch, especially given that the sleeping quarters are all separate buildings with private indoor and outdoor areas. Smoke Tree Ranch has a long history in the valley and provides a completely different experience from any other desert resort.


Family, Service
49 cottages
Breakfast Yes
Lunch Yes
Dinner Yes
Bar Yes
Cafe No
Room Service No
Gym, Pool
Free Parking


Phones: 800-787–3922; 760-327–1221

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