The Spaniard returns to the desert after missing out with a leg injury that he had damaged at the Australian Open.
But the 32-year-old is at full health this time around and is looking to make up for his Mexican Open disappointment last week.
Having led one set, Nadal lost two tie-breaks in the second and third sets to crash out to the Australian in the second round in Acapulco.
That comes after losing in the final of the Australian Open to the in-form Novak Djokovic back in January.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion is seeking his first title since the Canadian Open last August.
And he is particularly hungry to impress in California because it is a tournament he says is “very special” to him.
World No 2 Nadal is a three-time champion in the Coachella Valley with rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer both boasting five titles apiece.
Speaking to ATP World Tour, Nadal said: “Yeah [it’s] good [to be back]. It’s always good to be in the tournament, especially this event.
“The relationship I have with this event is very special.
“Last year I had to pull out at the last moment. I’m very excited to be back.
“It’s a place I enjoy a lot to be. The views, the calm, are unbelievable.
“In general terms I feel a little bit like home. The relationship with the organisation is just fantastic.
“It’s one of the weeks that I enjoy more on the tour.”
Asked how keen he was for a first Indian Wells triumph since 2013, the I want to win every tournament that I play. There’s plenty of other players that want the same as me.
“For me the most important thing is just to try to be healthy, be ready for the action and competitive.
“And then we will see if I am able to keep going to give me a chance.”
Nadal is yet to learn his second round opponent but the second seed will face one of two players outside of the top 100 in either Tatsuma Ito or Jared Donaldson.