Company History

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The Desert Adventures Story

Desert Adventures was founded in 1987 by Mary and Charlie Dungans to fulfill the growing need for exciting things to do in Palm Springs – other than play golf or tennis. They conceived the idea of offering entertaining, educational jeep tours into the desert after a visit to Arizona and a ride on the famed Pink Jeep Tours. Within four months of getting the idea, Desert Adventures was born with an initial fleet of three used vehicles and a capacity of nine passengers. The tours were a success from the beginning, and by the second year the capacity had grown to 35 tour seats and clients were coming back for more!

Over the years, our jeep fleet has grown to 15 7-passenger Jeep Scramblers (CJ-8’s) and we can accommodate up to 105 people at a time on jeep tours (larger groups can be accommodated using multiple rounds).

In 2010, Mary and Charlie decided it was time to hang up the jeep keys and retire. They were thrilled to sell the company to their daughter, Kimberly Nilsson (who had served as the General Manager of the company since 2004) and her business partner, Bob Schneider.

Kimberly brings over 30 years of experience working in the hospitality and tourism industries in the Palm Springs area, as well as a strong background in social psychology.

Bob is a seasoned marketing executive who has worked with Fortune 500 brands for over 30 years, creating integrated marketing campaigns. Career highlights include 13 years at Frankel & Co. in Chicago working on the McDonald’s account where he managed the account and oversaw a staff of 90 people. Bob spent 10 years at Warner Bros. studio in corporate marketing, promoting a vast array of brands and movies.

Corporate8Bob and Kimberly have continued to grow the company since taking over in 2010 and today, Desert Adventures offers tours and events at our 800 acre private METATE RANCH on the San Andreas Fault as well as other areas around the valley.

For individuals and families, we offer jeep tours to the San Andreas Fault, Palm Springs Indian Canyons, and the Painted Canyon / Mecca Hills Wilderness Area.  We also offer sightseeing tours to Joshua Tree National Park (conducted in a climate controlled van or SUV).

For groups, we offer jeep tours and rallies, sightseeing tours, and hiking tours throughout the valley as well as unique team building programs and weddings, corporate events, and special occasion celebrations at our Enchanted Desert event venue.  We also have a large natural desert set up against the hills that we call Coyote Canyon that is available for custom group events.  This location was used in 2016 for a large drone event sponsored by Intel.  

Over the years, Desert Adventures has become a leader in the eco-tourism and outdoor adventure industry. This leadership has developed from a combination of unique factors, including:

  • Eco-adventures that are authentic, entertaining and specific to the geographic area
  • Exclusive, private tour and special event areas
  • Unique positioning and on-going support from the corporate group market
  • Strong strategic alliances with local tourism agencies and Destination Management Companies, as well as national and international group and corporate meeting planners
  • Investment in career development and additions of key people to drive new products forward
  • The ability to adjust to market conditions and meet client’s needs quickly
  • A superior product and happy clients

We believe that “our clients are easily satisfied with the very best” which is what Desert Adventures’ delivers. We pride ourselves on exceeding customer expectations by providing exceptional service, the best fleet of custom built classic Jeep Scramblers in the country, outstanding wedding and party venues, amazing guides, and unsurpassed service and attention to detail.

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Awards + Recognition

Certificate of Excellence Winner - Hall of Fame

2018 San Jacinto Award 

Recognition of Dedication
Greater Palm Springs Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB)

2018 Business Award

Medium Business of the Year
Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce

2015 Santa Rosa Award 

Recognition of  Excellence
Greater Palm Springs Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB)

2015 Golden Palm Award

Attraction of the Year
Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism