From Old to New — Palm Springs Wind Farm Tour

Over 4,000 windmills reside in the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass between The San Bernardino Mountains and the Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs. The mountain peak is over 10,000 feet in elevation and creates a wind funnel which creates constant wind – it’s the perfect place to have windmills. These massive structures provide electricity for Palm Springs, as well as the Coachella Valley. 

One of the many windmills

On road trips, my family and I would pass by it, and I would admire the engineering, but otherwise, knew very little about about these structures. 

That all changed during my most recent trip to the Palm Springs area. I went on the self driving Palm Springs Windmill tour, where I learned about the history of the windmills and renewable energy.  

All you have to do is download the app and stop at the marked locations to take pictures with old windmills and other scenery. We took about 1.5 hours to complete the tour — which is the recommended time — but you can take as much time as you need to get through. In total, there are 10 stops. 

The first few stops allow you to get out of your car and view windmills that failed to fulfill their purpose. The guided tour gave information about the cause of failure and how they have improved over time.  For example, the bases and blades of windmills have changed drastically since the invention of the first windmill. Through trial and error, the design of the windmill has become more sleek and effective, collecting more energy than previous models.

As we progressed along the tour, the app provided more information about the newer technology as well as some history of the area. I learned that the first windmill was placed in 1982 in the initial farm of 212 windmills. This number has drastically increased to 4,000 to keep up with the demand of power in the surrounding area. 

Towards the end of the tour, I took photos next to a towering,  functioning windmill against the beautiful backdrop of the wind farm.  

The tour provided me with a wealth of knowledge about the importance of windmills and renewable energy. Next time I drive through Palm Springs , I’ll have a better understanding of the innovation that took place from the very first windmill to what we see now. 

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