The Desert X 2019 guide to Western Flag in Palm Springs

Western Flag, the Desert X art installation in Palm Springs
Western Flag, a Desert X art installation in Palm Springs

Desert X 2019 runs from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea (with many spots in the Coachella Valley in between) from February 9 through April 21. Below is info for Western Flag which can be found just north of downtown Palm Springs.  Check out the info below, then see our complete guide to all of the Desert X installations here.

What: Western Flag

Artist: John Gerrard

Where: Palm Springs Visitors Center

Update: This Desert X installation closed up shop early.  Hope you got a chance to see it.

Note: if you are looking to avoid Desert X “spoilers” stop reading here.  If not, carry on.

The Lowdown: If you are headed into Palm Springs on Highway 111 you get two chances to see Desert X installations before you even hit the city (the first being SPECTER). As you near Palm Springs, a giant black box comes into view just northwest of the Palm Springs sign, Tramway Road, and the cool visitor center, an old gas station designed by Albert Frey and Robson Chambers.

Western Flag, the Desert X art installation in Palm Springs
Western Flag, a Desert X art installation in Palm Springs

If you are doing a Desert X all-day tour, the first thing you should know is that this installation has bathrooms, so go ahead and use those if you need before checking it out.

Park at the Visitor Center (which, if you have never checked it out, is also very cool and yes, tourists, the Palm Springs Tram is just up the road) and please, for the love of God, DO NOT PARK ON HIGHWAY!!!!

Once parked, meander over to the box and you will see a digital display showing a flag waving just not the way you would expect.

Western Flag, a Desert X art installation in Palm Springs
Western Flag, a Desert X art installation in Palm Springs

Okay, so perhaps a video would help showcase this a bit better…

So what’s this all about?  Well, Gerrard says that Western Flag depicts the sire of the Lucas Gusher, the world’s first major oil find in Texas back in 1901.  The site is recreated as a digital simulation with a flagpole spewing an endless stream of black smoke.

A couple of pro-tips on this one:

The best time to view this is dusk, so check out what time the sun is setting and try to plan on being here about 30 minutes before sunset. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty cool anytime of day – but, if you are going for optimal, that would be the time.

For all of you Instagram peeps from out of town, guess what is literally right next to this piece? The iconic Palm Springs sign!

The iconic Palm Springs sign located at the Visitors Center at the base of the tram
The iconic Palm Springs sign

Yes, it’s a twofer of photo opps for you.  Or, go crazy and try to get both at the same time.

The iconic Palm Springs sign and the Western Flag Desert X art installation
Palm Springs sign and Western Flag

Finally, here’s a special something you don’t get on just any website, it’s the inside of the box!

The inside of Western Flag - the Desert X art installation in Palm Springs
The inside of Western Flag, the Palm Springs Desert X art installation

Anyway, it’s a pretty cool Desert X piece and I hope you enjoy.

We would love to see your photos of Western Flag.  Be sure to post them in the comments below – and check out our guide to all of the Desert X installations here. 


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