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: Western yellow bat, Swainson’s hawkCalifornia fan palmCoachella Valley milkvetchCoachella Valley Fringed-toed lizard

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 that are the focus 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 are important migration stopovers for migrating birds and 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. Current work also includes restoration of the Simone Pond at McCallum Grove. Invasive crayfish and several aquarium snails and fish have caused all the native species of frogs and fish to die off. This restoration work hopes to reclaim the pond for our native species.

About Thousand Palms Preserve

View all videos or visit us on YouTube. For more information, please contact us at (760) 731-7790, Ext. 112.

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 busses and large vans) should call ahead.

The Visitors’ Center is a rustic and charming palm log cabin which was built in the 1930s and 1940s.  It contains displays of the natural and historic features of the Thousand Palms Preserve and the Coachella Valley. It is closed in the summer from June 1 through August 31, but the preserve remains open for hiking and picnicking year-round. Because the Visitors’ Center hours are dependent on the availability of volunteer staffing, please call for the current hours of operation at 760.343.2733. The Visitors’ Center is located at 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road. A network of trails start at the Visitors’ Center and leads to a wide range of habitats from easy to moderately difficult, flat terrain to ridges: hikes of all varieties are available for your enjoyment. In addition, there are several equestrian trails available. Currently there are no bike trails or dog-friendly trails (for the safety of your dog, please leave them at home) for more information click, hereavailable. A downloadable trail map can be found here . During the visitors’ season (October through March) we offer a variety of guided hikes. Call the Visitors’ Center (760.343.2733) for current schedules. There are picnic tables at the Thousand Palms Oasis, McCallum Grove, and Pushwalla for picnics. 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: CNLM’s Visitors’ Center is staffed entirely by volunteer docents. Docent Volunteers greet visitors and answer questions at the Visitors’ Center. Other volunteers prepare new displays, lead hikes, pull weeds, or help maintain trails. We are always looking for new, energetic volunteers.  Call 760.343.2733 for more information.

Coachella Valley Preserve System: The Coachella Valley Preserve System includes the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Area of Conservation and Ecological Concern (ACEC), a US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), a California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) Ecological Reserve and a California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) State Park. BLM is the largest landowner. The BLM ACEC surrounds and includes the Thousand Palms Preserve. This special ACEC is set aside as a special conservation zone, protecting threatened, endangered and rare plants and animals. Next largest is the Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge that harbors the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. Adjacent to this, and also part of the lizard’s sand-blown habitat, is the CDFG Ecological Reserve. The eastern side of the Preserve system contains the remote Indio Hills State Park, owned and managed by State Parks. The size of the entire Coachella Valley Preserve System is just over 18,000 acres. The Preserve system also includes two other preserves, the Edom Hill/Willow Hole Preserve and the Whitewater Preserve. These two preserves are on the western side of the valley.

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.