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.

Species of Special Interest to CNLM: Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularis), western yellow bat (Lasiurus xanthinus), Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni),  California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), Coachella Valley milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae), Coachella Valley fringed-toed lizard (Uma inornata).

Following guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and consistent with the directives from various jurisdictions, the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) has closed the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve and all associated visitor-serving facilities including the Visitors’ Center, restrooms, parking lot, drinking water station, and trails. The preserve and all related facilities will be closed until further notice.

Conservation Significance

cv1fringetoedlizard (1)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 gap 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 Coachella Valley Dunes Preservedunes 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.    

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.  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 us at 760.343.1234

Current work also includes restoration of the Simone Pond at McCallum Grove. Invasive crayfish and several aquarium snails and fish have caused the native species of frogs and fish to become extirpated.  The goal of this restoration work is to reclaim the pond for our native species.  The grove is currently closed as the restoration proceeds.  Look for it to reopen in October of 2022.

Other Information

TDS-Coachella-Valley-Reserve009-Richard-Liu-small CNLM maintains a Visitors’ Center and a gated parking lot. This area is the hub of the more than 28 miles of trails within the Coachella Valley Preserve System. The CNLM Preserve gates are open year round, and visitors are encouraged to call the Visitors’ Center for current hours. The parking area at the Visitors’ Center is small and not well-suited for RVs, 5th Wheels or campers. Large groups (including buses and large vans) should call ahead.

The Visitors’ Center will be closed until further notice.  Please call 760-343-1234 for further information.

There are picnic tables at the Thousand Palms Oasis, McCallum Grove, and Pushwalla for picnics.  Be advised that these are not cleaned or sanitized.  It is recommended you bring your own sanitizing spray or table cover.

No fires or barbecues are permitted as a precaution towards protecting the ecologically important palm groves from fire.  Please pack out what you bring in!  We ask that you stay on trails.  To protect the wildlife and wildlife habitats, no off-trail or open desert hiking is permitted.

Volunteer Opportunities:  We are always looking for new, energetic volunteers.  Call 760.343.1234 for information.

Public Access

The Preserve has trails that are open to the public. Our Preserve Hours vary seasonally. Call ahead for current hours.
No access to the Preserve is allowed after hours.

The Simone Pond is closed until October 2020.

No large vehicles are allowed into the parking lot.
The Preserve parking lot cannot accommodate large vehicles—for entry, parking, or turning around. Please do not use the entrance to the parking lot as a turn-around. This restriction applies to all vehicles larger than 20 feet—including buses, 5th wheelers, semi-trailers, trucks, vans or large recreational vehicles.

We are sorry for any inconvenience, but this restriction is required to protect the safety of Preserve visitors.

For your safety, we do not recommend that you park on the side of the road.

Please stay on trails.
Call the Preserve Visitors’ Center (760.343.2733) or the Preserve Manager (760.343.1234) for more information.

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.