A gentle breeze whooshes down from the San Bernardino Mountains and Indio Hills, leaving a wavy pattern on the sand dunes in the Coachella Valley Preserve, a 20,000-acre sanctuary where the blowing sand provides subterfuge to elusive, rare fringe-toed lizards, and where oases of stately palm trees stand sentinel above their lifeline — an improbable water source created by leaks along the San Andreas Fault.
South of this desolate mass of land lies the Salton Sea — the state’s largest lake and the valley’s latest restoration project — as well as the Santa Rosa Mountains, the southeastern range that connects in Palm Springs with the San Jacinto Mountains. Four years ago, U.S. Rep. Mary Bono introduced — and Congress passed — legislation designating the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
Within the monument lie breathtaking natural treasures — bighorn sheep in the Santa Rosas, a waterfall in south Palm Springs’ Indian Canyons, and alpine forest atop 10,834-foot Mount San Jacinto, one of the steepest escarpments in the United States.
Indeed, landlocked never looked so good. From north to south, the monument abounds with canyons — Snow Creek, Chino, Tahquitz, and the lesser-known Toro, Martinez, and Deep canyons. Their refreshing creeks and shady groves of Washingtonia filifera palms offer a dream opportunity for visitors on a quest for adventure.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Coachella Valley Preserve
Ramon Road two miles north of Interstate 10
exit in Thousand Palms
(760) 343-1234 or (760) 251-4800
National Monument Visitor Center
51-500 Highway 74, Palm Desert
South Palm Canyon Drive, south Palm Springs
500 W. Mesquite, Palm Springs
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Highway 111 and Tramway Road, Palm Springs
The Living Desert
47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms
Clusters of small, tubular verbena and perennial primrose in Palm Springs.
Sunrise in Palm Springs.
Thousand Palms Oasis, Coachella Valley Preserve.
Bighorn sheep at The Living Desert in Palm Desert.
Egrets at the Salton Sea.
Indian Canyons, Palm Springs.
Winter sunrise over Mt. San Jacinto.
Joshua Tree National Park.