As early as 1853, the area now known as Indian Wells, was the site of a thriving Indian village. A decade later, when gold was discovered on the Colorado River, a trail was built from Los Angeles through the desert to the gold mines. A stage line used the trail to transport prospectors and the city became an important stop along the trail.
Over the next decades, settlers gradually arrived in the area and date ranches became profitable. In the 1950s, the first golf courses were opened at the Eldorado Country Club and the Indian Wells Country Club.
The inhabitants of Indian Wells voted on June 27, 1967 to incorporate as a city, to avoid being annexed by neighboring cities such as Palm Desert. On July 14, 1967, Indian Wells became California’s 400th city and the 16th in Riverside County. Since then, Indian Wells has continued to grow, with the development of resort hotels, golf courses and luxury residential areas.
The city has a population of approximately 5,000. There are 2,745 households; the median age is 66.7 years. There are 5,137 housing units. The median income for a household in the city is approximately $111,000. The city has a total area of 14.6 square miles.
The city hosts the fifth-largest tennis tournament in the world, the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament—presently known as the BNP Paribas Open. This tournament is one of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 high-level events operated by the Association of Tennis Professionals, and one of the four WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments of the Women’s Tennis Association. It is held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which contains the second-largest tennis-specific stadium in the world.