Updated: August 26, 2011

Winter, when temperatures hover in the 70s, is the perfect time to explore the varied desert terrain that surrounds Palm Springs. Set up base camp at the exotic Korakia, a 29-room boutique hotel. The property borders the 33,400-acre San Jacinto Wilderness, which is studded with rocky peaks that rise more than 10,000 feet. As you hike on some of the 50-plus miles of marked trails, be sure to look up at the snow-covered summits. If you want to get closer to the white stuff and 80-foot pine trees, ride the aerial tramway two and a half miles to the top of the San Jacinto Peak ($22; pstramway.com).

Take off your hiking boots and catch a glimpse of the animals you (thankfully) didn't see on your hikes, like the gila monster and coyote, at the Living Desert, a wilderness park cum education center that's a 10-minute drive east of Palm Springs ($12; livingdesert.org). Don't miss Korakia's spa, where you can get a reflexology treatment ($95 for 60 minutes), then relax among olive trees and bougainvillea.

DETAILS Rooms start at $139. Go to korakia.com for more info.

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