By Denise O’Neil Ortuno

I don’t remember ever not noticing its bright light. It has stood above the desert area of Palm Desert that I have called home for well over 30 years (yes, I’m only 30 years old). Above El Paseo, above the mall, above all the touristy hoop la and probable hoop Nah. The cross of Palm Desert stands…proud…hovering over our small desert city, sheltering us from the tip of the mountain from inclement weather, and possible other nefarious situations.

The cross that illuminates the Palm Desert sky has been in existence since 1981, erected in association with St Margaret’s Church just a slight mountain below.

At one point it was a source of light pollution annoyance….the nearby residents complained about the crosses bright lights as some sort of inhibitor to the skies normal resilient darkness. The cross was in danger of being un-erected.


But because it sits on private property and with the adjustment to the brightness of bulbs, the issue was resolved and the cross was saved. I remember hearing about the scenario, and being relieved that it had been resolved. Because really, what would Palm Desert be without that peaceful cross on the mountain for everyone to see?

It is possibly fodder for some to argue about religion and such. But at the end of the day, no matter what you believe in, the cross is just a constant reminder that something is well…just constant. And in this world of cell phones and computers that can go dead from an energy serge…what is wrong from looking up to see that something that is shining bright for us to see…to even maybe make a wish upon…no plug to worry about.

What is even more awesome about the Palm Desert Cross is that you can even hike up to it if you’re feeling extra frisky. You can hike up to it via Bump n Grind or through the Homestead Trail. It is a hearty trail, so be prepared. It is not meant for the meek hearted by any means…so do some cardio beforehand if you haven’t worked out in a while.

Christmas time will be extra poignant for all of you Christians out there….and even if you’re not, it’s still just an awesome hike and an awesome site to see. You will be in the midst of the brightest light fixture in the Coachella Valley…and in turn you will shine right along with it.