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Palm Canyon—Another Hidden Park Oasis

A couple of weeks ago, I sniffed around a unique Balboa Park neighborhood oasis, Golden Hill Park. This week my fine canine senses have led me to Palm Canyon, a veritable tropical oasis tucked inside the Park’s popular central mesa area.


cosmos-blog_palm-canyonOne of the earliest sections of the Park to be developed, Palm Canyon first came to life in 1912. In anticipation of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, Balboa Park’s famed horticulturist, Kate Sessions, took advantage of an underground stream here to plant dozens of Mexican fan palms, along with other varieties, to create a tropical paradise. Many more have been added over the century, resulting in a total population of 450-plus palms representing over 50 species, along with many other complementary specimens of plant life.


This lush canyon was further enhanced in 1976 with a convenient wooden staircase and footbridge just south of the House of Charm. Now visitors can either descend to explore the shady canyon’s hidden treasures as they hike southward toward the Old Cactus Garden. Or, they can enjoy the scenery from atop the footbridge overlooking the canyon.


Ironically, one of the most striking horticultural features in the canyon isn’t a palm at all, but a large Moreton Bay fig tree adjacent to the wooden steps. This tree’s massive and elaborate root structure is any pooch’s dream come true!

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