The recent wet weather may have turned the Coachella Valley into a driving nightmare, but the dividends from the extra moisture are about to be literally visualized.
The Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival set for March 2 celebrates the vibrant spring blooms that transform the desert. With opportunities for spectacular wildflower viewing and displays of beautiful art, the festival looks to encourage attendees to connect to the land and join in efforts to conserve the delicate desert environment. In previous years, the event featured renowned sand artists “The Sand Guys,” who created custom sand structures to celebrate the desert landscape.
Tammy Martin, executive director of Friends of Desert Mountains, believes that the awareness brought by the event is pivotal in their mission to preserve the unique flora and fauna of the Coachella Valley and instill environmental awareness in future generations.
“[We] have been in business for almost 32 years, and there’s still people… that don’t know who we are or what we do,” Martin explains. “It’s good to be able to educate people on what we do, and really help people connect to the land.”
For those who might not be able to make it to the festival, however, Martin believes residents will still be able to enjoy the spring wildflowers at trails in the Coachella Valley Wildlife Preserve as well as in Mission Creek and Whitewater later in the season. Another location that Martin recommends visitors to see are the trails at Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument; where the wildflowers have been in bloom since December.
“If you go out on the trails now, the viewing is phenomenal,” Martin shares. “A lot of the seeds have been windblown, so you will see flowers in places that wildflowers would not normally bloom.”
At the Wildflower Festival there are activities for kids and adults.
The festival will also feature a plethora of educational activities for adults and children, including a 5k Fun Run and a Kids’ Zone. In addition, guests will be able to enjoy live music, food and drink concessions, a beer and wine garden, and other special items for sale by on-site vendors. Attendees can visit informational booths to learn about the conservation programs that Friends of Desert Mountains has, as well as sign up for interpretive hikes that will be taking place later in the month at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert.
Apart from the annual festival, Friends of the Desert Mountains also directs a variety of enrichment and education programs; including guided hikes, adult and youth education, citizen science, trail maintenance and weed removal, and conservation. Enthusiasts can board a special bus tour March 20, where they will be able to join a luxury coach to locate desert plants in bloom.
“We really encourage people to get involved with us,” Martin says. “We want to help people learn about the Coachella Valley and what they can do to preserve it.”
Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2, at the Palm Desert Civic Center Park, 43900 San Pablo Ave. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. For information on Friends of Desert Mountains, visit DesertMountains.org or call 760-862-9984.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM BREWSTER