Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

Area: The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve has 880 acres and is contiguous with other conserved areas that are collectively known as the Coachella Valley Preserve System.

Location: Tucked into the northern edge of the Indio Hills, the Preserve offers sweeping views of the Little San Bernardino Mountains and the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park.

Date Acquired: 2013

Acquisition Type: The Center for Natural Lands Management owns the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.  We protect and manage species and habitats on the preserve in perpetuity.

Key Habitats:   Freshwater Aquatic / Wetland, Desert Sand Dunes, Palm Woodland Oasis, Desert Wash, Desert Scrub, and Desert Riparian.

Conservation Significance

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The Coachella Valley Preserve System (see “Coachella Valley Preserve System” below) was designed to protect an endemic, threatened reptile, the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata).  This lizard is found on the sand dunes that are located on the southern edge of the Coachella Valley Preserve (CV Preserve).  The CNLM Preserve primarily protects the Thousand Palms Canyon, part of the alluvial system that feeds the sand dunes of the CV Preserve, but also contains a few acres of sand dune habitat.  The Thousand Palms Canyon is a wide canyon that sweeps down from the little San Bernardino Mountains, through a gaCoachella Valley Dunes Preservep in the Indio Hills, and washes onto the wide alluvial fan that borders the north edge of Palm Desert.  Rainfall in the upper reaches of the hills moves rock, sand, and soil in torrential flash floods from the San Bernardino’s and the Indio Hills onto the vast floodplain at the foot of the Indio Hills.  From there the fierce desert winds pick up the lightest of the soil particles, and carry them southeast along the valley floor.  As wind speed slows, the particles drop onto the desert floor, creating sweeping dunes of glittering sand.  Only a fragment of the once-abundant dunes remain.  In addition, the canyon contains a large, rare desert wetland and two palm oases.  Many rare and listed species use these habitats:  A California species of special concern, the western yellow bat, (Lasiurus xanthinus) flits and twitters in the rare desert palm oases; an endangered species, the Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsonii) soars over the valley floor in migration between their breeding and wintering territories; a US Forest Service special animal, the Rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata), slithers between the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) shadows, and the Federally endangered Coachella Valley milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae) can be found tucked into desert dunes in the spring.

Coachella Valley Preserve System

The Coachella Valley Preserve is actually a system of preserves. It is and has been a model of cooperation between federal, state, and private conservation efforts for managing sensitive natural areas. It is comprised of three separate Units set aside for conservation in a landmark Habitat Conservation Plan signed in 1986.  These are the Whitewater Floodplain Unit, the Edom Hill/Willow Hole Unit and the Thousand Palms Unit. The Whitewater Floodplain Unit is primarily managed by the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Edom Hill Unit is managed by the BLM and Coachella Valley Association of Governments. For information on these two units, please contact those agencies.

TDS-Coachella-Valley-Reserve009-Richard-Liu-smallCNLM owns the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve which is the heart of the Thousand Palms Preserve Unit of the Coachella Valley Preserve. This Preserve contains the Thousand Palms and McCallum Oases. The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve is also often referred to as the Coachella Valley Preserve—which can create confusion because it is only part of the CV Preserve. The extensive trail system that goes across the entire CV Preserve System starts here in the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.  CNLM staff coordinates the management of the trail system on the Preserve.

The other major land owners within the Thousand Palms Unit of the Coachella Valley Preserve System are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The BLM portion of the CV Preserve System has been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).  These are areas where special management attention is needed to protect important historical, cultural, and scenic values, or fish and wildlife or other natural resources.  There are no approved camping areas, nor are there any approved off-road vehicle access areas anywhere on the Preserve and we ask the public to stay on approved trails. For specific information about camping and off-road vehicle opportunities in the region, contact the local BLM office: https://www.blm.gov/office/palm-springs-south-coast-field-office.

The USFWS’s Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge makes up the lower third of the CV Preserve/Thousand Palms Unit. This refuge is closed to public entry to protect the federally endangered Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard: https://www.fws.gov/saltonsea/coachella/cv_index.html.

CDFW has declared their portion of the CV Preserve/Thousand Palms Unit an Ecological Reserve. Hunting and fishing are not allowed on this land. CDFW owns land containing sand dunes and sand fields in the southern portion of the CV Preserve/Thousand Palms Unit. For information on lands open to fishing and/or hunting, contact CDFW at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was one of the major forces behind the formation of the Coachella Valley Preserve System. TNC transferred ownership of the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve to the CNLM in 2013.

Our Work

CNLM’s objective is to manage and protect the desert wetlands which are the focal ecosystem of this Preserve.  The hydrologic and fluvial processes that occur in the wash are crucial for the protection and creation of the sand dune habitat that occurs at the base of the Indio Hills on the south side of the Coachella Valley Preserve System.  In addition, the oases serve as important migration stopovers for migrating birds, residence for bats, as well as an important resource for the desert animals in the hot, arid summers.  One of the biggest threats and CNLM’s goals include control of invasive species like tamarisk species (Tamarix aphylla and Tamarix ramosissima).  These plants can clog and damage fluvial systems and can spread widely and quickly.

About Thousand Palms Preserve

View our videos or for more information, please contact the Preserve Manager at gshort@cnlm.org

About the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

For more information about the Preserve, CNLM videos can be viewed here or contact the Preserve Manager at gshort@cnlm.org

Public Access

Note: Public accessibility of the Preserve’s trails and facilities may vary depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, season, required maintenance, special events, or for other reasons. Please visit this webpage prior to visiting the Preserve to be certain of current conditions.  

 HOURS:

  • WEDNESDAY through SUNDAY 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • The Preserve is CLOSED on Monday and Tuesday. This means there is no public access to the Thousand Palms Oasis or its trails.
  • We do not have different Holiday hours. If the holiday falls Wednesday through Sunday, the preserve trails will be open. If it falls on a Monday or a Tuesday, the preserve trails will be closed.

FACILITIES: The parking lot, Visitors’ Center, and bathrooms are closed for the foreseeable future.

PARKING IS LIMITED AS THE PARKING LOT IS CLOSED. The public can access the trails by walking through the parking lot or from the trails across from the Pushawalla Trailhead.

TRAILS:

  • The McCallum Trail, Moon Country, Smoke Tree and Herman’s Hike Trails are open only during the above business hours. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Herman’s Hike is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • The following trails are adjacent to the Thousand Palms oasis preserve and may be accessed by the trailheads on Thousand Palms Canyon Road and many be enjoyed all week: Pushawalla, Hidden Palms, Indian Palms and Willis Palms.
  • Simone Pond remains closed for the foreseeable future..

THIS IS A WILDLIFE AREA AND NOT APPROPRIATE FOR DOMESTIC ANIMALS.

  • DOGS AND OTHER PETS are not allowed on any trail. This exclusion includes therapy or comfort animals. Pets must not be left in vehicles because of the extreme temperatures—which can occur even in the winter.
  • VALID SERVICE ANIMALS ARE WELCOME. Please keep your animal close to you and on a leash. Do not allow it to chase, bark, or dig. Please bring your own clean up bags as we do not provide them.

WHERE TO FIND US: We are located at 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road, Thousand Palms, CA 92276.

GUIDED HIKES AND BIRDWALKS are not being conducted at this time.

Contact

For more information on Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve or Center for Natural Lands Management please contact Ginny Short Preserve Manager at gshort@cnlm.org  or 760.343.1234

Mailing address for the Preserve:  P.O. Box 188 Thousand Palms, CA 92276.