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What’s open in the desert during Labor Day

HOLIDAY TRAVEL

Labor Day is on Monday and travelers all around the country are gearing up for the 3-day weekend. AAA's summer forecast lasts until the end of this month, and estimates a decline in travel throughout the United States to drop more than 14 percent. Despite several businesses and activities being unavailable due to the pandemic, there are still alternatives on what people can do and where they can go in the desert.

OffRoad Rentals in Palm Springs is one business that is offering outdoor activities over the holiday weekend. Customers can ride ATV's through 50 acres of sand dunes and desert.

Many people lined up at the site on Friday as they waited for their turn at an ATV.

"We came out here 2 months ago, my boys loved it. Me and my boys, my nephew, my best friend came out here to rock it," Rancho Cucamonga resident, Andre Johnson said.

Despite a day of fun both Johnson and others were unaware they would be riding through the desert in the middle of a heat wave.

When asked whether Johnson knew it was going to be that hot on Friday:

"To be honest no, I would not have came. It’s 112 degrees, it’s different than Rancho," Johnson said.

Shian Williams, of Atlanta, was also visiting with some friends and had no idea what she was in for.

"I came to visit LA and they said, 'let’s go four wheel riding' and I said, 'okay let’s do it that seems great,'" Williams said.

OffRoad Rentals owner Steven Harris said the activity could be physically taxing as riders shift their weight from side-to-side.

"We’ve had days of 120 [degrees]. I can remember a day when it was 128 [degrees]. We still had customers, just not as many," Williams said.

The site had closed down for 2 months at the start of the pandemic. Williams said business has picked up since so many others remain closed.

Everyday safety requirements range from riders having to watch a 10-minute instructional video, to signing a liability waiver.

"They have to wear close-toed shoes, we’ll provide them if they don’t have them. We’ll give them a plastic bag that goes over their socks if they’re going to use our shoes. All of them get a plastic bag to wear on their head, they are shower caps. We provide goggles, we’ll let adults wear their sunglasses," Williams said.

Safety precautions have expanded beyond the norm due to coronavirus.

"We require masks and social distancing. We use sanitary solutions which we buy usually in Lowe's or Home Depot. We wipe all of the machines in between customers and in the morning. We want everybody to stay apart when they’re driving," said Williams.

The outdoor fun is one option, but some people may not be too keen on being outside in the extreme heat.

"Our giraffes are always one of our fan favorites here. People like to come and see those animals and also you have a chance to get up close and personal to one of our feeding opportunities for the giraffe," The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens CEO and President, Allen Monroe said.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens will remain open through the holiday weekend. The facility is now trying to get back on its feet after being closed for months through the pandemic. A new habitat, known as Australian Adventures, was slated to open in March. That got delayed due to the closure. Monroe said it is now open for visitors and offers a wide array of animals.

"We have a whole series of wonderful Australian animals-- an emu, wallabies, spiny echidnas, that are just ready and waiting for our guests to come and have a chance to see those amazing animals," Monroe said.

The zoo is currently holding its summer hours. First admission is at 7 a.m. and the last admission is at 1 p.m. in order to avoid some of the hottest hours of the day. Advanced purchase of tickets are required through the zoo's website. Adult admission pricing is $24.95. Children's admission ages 3+ is $14.95.

For adults who may just want to stay inside, casinos are keeping their doors open.

"It’s really tough out there right now so we just want to be a place where people release, let go. Be safe of course and just have fun," Agua Caliente Advertising Manager, Pearl Aguinaldo said.

Restaurants inside will stay open. Aguinaldo said there are 'contactless' menus, stickers placed on the ground to maintain social distancing, and other preventative measures in place.

"We are also configuring the room making sure that there’s enough spacing in between each table for people to sit and dine with their family and friends," Aguinaldo said.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

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