There are many adjectives that can be used to describe Rancho Mirage, California: peaceful, beautiful, relaxing, verdant, convenient, warm, friendly, cultured, sunny, elegant, unfettered. Located in the geographic center of the Palm Springs Valley, 10 miles from Palm Springs to the northwest and Indio to the southeast, Rancho Mirage lies in a sheltered cove, spreading its green carpet across the desert floor from the Santa Rosa Mountains on the south toward the mighty snowcapped San Jacinto range on the west.
Every attraction of this sunshine wonderland is quickly accessible: open desert, dramatic canyons and the greatest golf courses in the world. The community rises above the surrounding valley at an elevation of 252 feet. Rancho Mirage has dry, clear air and low humidity, offering casual living at its unhurried, uncrowded best. Scores of corporate presidents and other chief executive officers — people who really know the meaning of daily pressure — come from everywhere to seek relaxation in Rancho Mirage. Rancho Mirage is the oasis of gracious living in the Palm Springs Valley.
Rancho Mirage is a 21st-century city, but it holds a legacy of Native American and European cultures. The Palm Springs Valley was home to the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians for centuries before the Spanish developed land routes in the region to supply inland missions in the 1770s. Spanish Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and his party of 34 men crossed the desert in 1774 to open a route to coastal California. Their route was to the south of the Palm Springs Valley, as they skirted the Santa Rosas on the south side of the Borrego Valley. In 1848, California became a territory of the United States following the Mexican-American War. The following year brought the California Gold Rush of ‘49 and led to statehood in 1850. Colonel Henry Washington and his troops made the first U.S. Government survey of the Palm Springs Valley in 1855-56.
From the Civil War until the early 1920s, about the only human activities in Rancho Mirage were travelers headed to Yuma on the Bradshaw Trail, and travelers passing through the area by train.
The promotion of Rancho Mirage as a destination desert community began as early as 1924 with the efforts of Bert Davie and E.E. McIntyre, who purchased hundreds of acres of land from the Southern Pacific Railroad. Bert Davie was an ardent promoter from Michigan who established a ranch house at Clancy Lane and built a north-south thoroughfare to connect his new desert paradise to the Bradshaw Trail (the present-day Highway 111). He named this road Rio del Sol (Way of the Sun), which later became Bob Hope Drive.
Les Clancy, the first of the “gentlemen farmers” to build a home in the development, arrived with his wife Helen and brother M.C. in 1932. The area was known to most as “Little Santa Monica,” named after the city they hailed from, near Los Angeles.
Two other real estate speculators, Louis Blankenhorn and Laurence Macomber, are credited with giving us the name Rancho Mirage when they launched a promotion of land parcels along Highway 111 in 1934, in the area between Bob Hope Drive and Indian Trail. While this subdivision was quite successful, the activity center of the community continued to be Davie’s Rio del Sol Estates through World War II.
After the second world war, Rancho Mirage saw a new era of development that would create the predominant image as a world-class resort and residential community, characterized by high-quality planned residential golf course developments.
The Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce was born out of the building boom created by the country clubs and the nation’s robust post-war economy. Businesses set up shop to serve the burgeoning community, and residential neighborhoods sprouted up in the Magnesia Falls Cove. The Chamber of Commerce was an important cog in the wheel of the community along with the Rancho Mirage Community Association.
The Chamber promoted Rancho Mirage as a great place to live with wide-open spaces, spectacular views and golf, all situated in the heart of the Palm Springs Valley.
The City of Rancho Mirage incorporated in 1973 and took on the task of promoting high-quality economic growth while maintaining the quality of life that initially attracted residents to the area. Its views of surrounding mountains, attractively landscaped streets and golf course communities make it a truly special place. Rancho Mirage has a reputation as a low-density, high-quality resort town. The city enhances this image by designing and maintaining visually distinct entry monuments, public signs and architectural elements. To keep Rancho Mirage’s sense of place as a unique, unparalleled haven in the desert, the city maintains many of the major streets and thoroughfares with lush, drought-tolerant median landscaping and street designs. Rancho Mirage residents will soon have no utility wires overhead blocking their views as the city completes the “undergrounding” of all utilities.
With a permanent population of 17,057, Rancho Mirage expects the population to peak at 25,900 by the year 2020.
Rancho Mirage hosts over a million visitors a year and is the winter home for an additional 11,300 people. Tourism is Rancho Mirage’s leading industry, and maintaining a relaxed, high-quality resort lifestyle is tantamount to its success. With forward thinking backed by a history of success, Rancho Mirage will continue to reign as the “Oasis of Gracious Living” in the Palm Springs Valley. In 2003, Rancho Mirage was named the best resort town in the world by the London Imperial Traveler Magazine.