Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza
The new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza honors the Tribe’s long tradition of sharing their story and their sacred hot mineral spring with desert visitors.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has called the Greater Palm Springs area home from time immemorial. The tribe has a long tradition of sharing their sacred hot mineral spring with settlers and guests. Now they will share their story like never before at The Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza. Located on nearly six acres in the heart of downtown, the new Plaza honors the history, culture, and traditions of the Tribe with a world-class Museum, a state-of-the-art Spa, a Gathering Plaza, and an interactive walking Trail.
After years of planning, the Tribe broke ground on the ambitious Cultural Plaza project in May of 2018. Although the Tribe had passed down oral traditions for hundreds of generations about the hot mineral spring they called Séc-he (the Cahuilla term for "the sound of boiling water") and the surrounding desert oasis, the ethnographic and archaeological records for the site were slim. From the beginning of the construction process, cultural monitors from the Agua Caliente Historic Preservation Office were stationed at the site to observe construction activities, hoping to recover artifacts and cultural resources.
Less than two months into the project, a cultural monitor noticed a streak of ash that led to the incredible discovery of not just one, but over 100 cooking hearths and features. Staff and volunteers uncovered thousands of artifacts at the deeply buried archeological site, including stone cooking tools, spear and projectile points, shell beads, and many other metal and wooden objects. Radiocarbon dating has revealed the site was in use anywhere from 7,700 to 8,200 years ago, several thousand years older than the oldest previously-known site in the valley.
Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza
Now, after five years of construction and recovery, the stunning Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza is ready for visitors. Comprising beautifully designed indoor and outdoor spaces, the expansive open-air Gathering Plaza is adjacent to the sacred Séc-he spring. The Oasis Trail features native palm trees and provides an interactive, cultural learning environment mimicking the distinctive character, geology, flora, and beauty of the nearby Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyons on a smaller scale.
Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
The 48,000 square foot Cultural Museum features permanent exhibition space dedicated to the history and culture of the Tribe and includes many of the artifacts uncovered during the archeological excavation of the site. There is also a gallery for rotating exhibits, an educational classroom, and event space. Wander the adjacent teaching garden, blooming with bristlebrush, creosote and other indigenous plants. At the Museum Store, browse for art, jewelry, and other products sourced directly from Native American artists and Native American-owned businesses from across the nation.
The Spa at Séc-he
The Spa at Séc-he opened earlier this year and includes numerous ways to experience the healing mineral waters. The water from the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring is estimated to be upwards of 12,000 years old and contains a mineral make-up that has not been found anywhere else in the world. The state-of-the-art Spa is the fifth bathhouse or spa at the site, with the first one operating in the late 1880s.
The Spa Menu includes massage therapy, facials, body scrubs & wraps using indigenous botanicals, and more, but our favorite way to experience Séc-he is the “Taking of the Waters” day pass. You’ll enjoy a freshly-drawn private soak in one of 22 mineral bath rooms, plus full-day access to all of the spa’s deluxe amenities including a salt room, steam bath, and outdoor pools.
Building upon the traditions of the Agua Caliente people and the world-renowned natural features of their ancestral lands, the new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza encompasses a wide-range of experiences and learning opportunities that convey the values and legacy of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.