For thousands of years, particles of sand from the San Bernardino Mountains and Indio Hills washed into the Coachella Valley, forming a system of dunes. Today, these dunes are part of the Coachella Valley Preserve System, a 20,000-acre sanctuary that is home to several species of increasingly rare wildlife. The Coachella Valley Preserve also contains several palm oases, formed because San Andreas Fault lines allow water flowing underground to rise to the surface.
History of the Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve was established in 1984 as a partnership between the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management. The preserve was created to protect and preserve the fragile desert ecosystem, including the natural water resources and wildlife.
The preserve is also home to the Thousand Palms Oasis, which has been an important site for human settlement and agriculture for thousands of years. The Cahuilla Indians, who are the original inhabitants of the area, used the oasis as a source of food, water, and shelter. Today, the Thousand Palms Oasis is an important tourist attraction and a popular spot for hiking and wildlife viewing.
The spectacular Thousand Palms Oasis includes trails that wind past pools containing endangered desert pupfish. Native vegetation includes creosote bush, burrobush, smoke tree and desert lavender, part of this area’s unique habitat for wildlife. Enjoy some of the 30 miles of trails, picnic areas, cool oases and wildlife and wildflowers and take a walk into the past in the Visitors’ Center, the Palm House, a palm log cabin built in the 1930’s.
Hiking in the Coachella Valley Preserve
There are no user fees to use the trails. The trails range from easy to moderate difficulty, and offer a variety of scenic views and experiences.
One of the most popular trails in the preserve is the McCallum Trail, which leads to the Thousand Palms Oasis. The trail is a 2.5 mile round trip hike, and offers stunning views of the desert landscape and the oasis. Along the trail, hikers can also see examples of ancient Cahuilla Indian irrigation systems.
Another popular trail in the preserve is the Pushawalla Palms Trail, which offers a unique view of the desert palm oasis. The trail is a 4 mile round trip hike, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape.
The preserve also offers several shorter trails, including the Willis Palms Trail and the Hidden Palms Trail, which are both less than a mile long and offer a quick glimpse into the unique ecosystem of the desert.
DIRECTIONS – Take Interstate 10 to the Bob Hope exit (about 10 miles east of Palm Springs);go north and turn right on Varner road. At Ramon Road, turn left. Drive east to Thousand Palms Canyon Drive. Turn north and drive about two miles to the entrance.
If you are staying in the Palm Springs area and are looking for other things to do, check out our article on One Week in Palm Springs.