Snow Creek is the first pearl on the “String of Pearls” of natural beauties that make up the Coachella Valley
Snow Creek/’s view of the north face of San Jacinto
From the moment you turn off Highway 111 onto Snow Creek Road you are drawn to the dramatic snow-covered north face of San Jacinto. But nestled into the base of the mountains amidst a grove of olive trees is your destination, Snow Creek, about 10 minutes outside of Palm Springs.
A private village of 39 homes nestled into the base of the San Jacinto mountains, Snow Creek commands sweeping vistas of the valley beyond and the untouched native landscape.
The Wanikik band of the Cahuilla Indians spent hundreds of years fishing for trout around the village and a cave above it is believed to have been used for shaman rituals. Natural springs and snow-melt ensure the waterfalls above the village run year-round.
Snow Creek was also a stop on the Wells Fargo Pony Express in the early 1800′s, used to rest and water the horses and passengers. Early railroad workers also used Snow Creek as a water source and get-a-way from the summer heat on the valley floor.
By 1920 Sicilian sheep farmers planted the olive grove in Snow Creek that is lovingly cared for today. Today’s village began as a fishing camp, homes were built along the creek and generations of families have used the village as a second home set amidst the cottonwoods and desert williows. The creek was diverted by the Desert Water Agency in the 60′s but the village is just as charming today.
Snow Creek has also been a haven for artists, outdoor enthusiasts and seekers of privacy and quiet throughout the years. This is most notable in the vernacular design of some of the homes in town from the storybook style home Van Pelt built for his bride made of native rock, concrete and driftwood to the mid-century modern D’Angelo rotating polygonal home, made from his company’s aluminum, the Beatles are thought to have spent time there.
Sculptural entrance to home
Today there are artists like Chris Neil, a valley native, who has made Snow Creek his home. His love of the area is evident in the sculpture around his house and in the new home he has built in the village.
Located on 15926 Cottonwood Rd this new custom home has been built around an original rock chimney. It’s a contemporary home that gives homage to the village’s past with the material used in its construction. Set amidst the boulders, an artistic cor-ten steel screen flanks the entrance to the home. Step through the steel and glass front door into the great room and kitchen beyond. The house is light and bright with clerestory windows and windows framing your view of the north face of San Jacinto beyond. The steel roof is suspended high above on long wood and metal trusses giving the space a lofty open feeling.
Great room and kitchen Views
Street view of home
Entrance into great room
Kitchen with dramatic views
Great room with fireplace/stove
Light & Bright Bedroom
There is a wood-buring fireplace/stove in the great room with lots of built-ins and polished concrete floors throughout the home. Carrara marble counters, high-end appliances, fixtures and cabinets round out the kitchen with mountain views and a slider to the outdoor patio.
Starry nights can be enjoyed from the bedroom suite clerestory windows. The spa-like bath has floor-to-ceiling tile and built-in storage.
Nighttime in Snow Creek
Roll out a yoga mat, pull out a book by the fire or gaze out the windows at the amazing view beyond. This is a home for anyone seeking beauty and easy living in an unique desert community.
For any questions on this special home please call Kris Rain at 760-218-6079 or paulkaplangroup.com
Chris Neil is president of P.S.I. General Contractors, a family valley business since 1954. Chris specializes in both new build, renovations and restorations on mid-century modern and southwestern style homes. He has done full restorations on both Donald Welxer and William Cody properties. Chris lives up the road in Snow Creek, you’ll know it when you see it.
For more on the story of Snow Creek and its people watch Huell Howser’s 2002 story on Snow Creek from his archive at Chapman University and check out Palm Springs Life’s online archive for stories on Snow Creek.
Photography by Chadwick Turner