Coachella Valley Preserve is just a short, convenient, air-conditioned day trip from Palm Springs.
Take a nice easy walk through a real oasis in the middle of the desert, or work up a sweat under the sweltering desert sun, and then retire for a cool drink in the shade of a gorgeous palm grove. No matter how you choose to spend your time at Coachella Valley Preserve, you won’t be disappointed.
Located 10 miles east of Palm Springs near 1,000 Palms, and fed by water seeping out of the San Andreas Fault, this 17,000-acre Preserve is a natural refuge where visitors can discover rare and wonderful wildlife species.
Golden foothills and mesas, white dunes, and silent canyons are all home to the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, which is found nowhere else in the world, as well as various other reptiles, birds, and big cats.
Paul Wilhelm Grove
In the middle of an amazing date, palm oasis is the Paul Wilhelm Grove, which is also the location of the Preserve’s rustic visitor’s center. The area is also the hub of a diverse trail system, and inside the historic building, guests can find trail maps as well as being treated to unique displays of the natural and historic features of the various Preserves in the area.
There are over 28 miles of trails leading to a wide range of habitats, most of which are well marked, with some having picnic areas atop wonderful vistas overlooking the surrounding valley.
From easy to moderately difficult, from flat terrain to steep grades, hikes of all varieties are available for your enjoyment. There are also several designated equestrian trails, but there are no bike or dog-friendly trails.
One hike that is a sure bet for all levels is through varying desert terrain out to the McCallum Grove, which is about a mile from the visitor’s center. There are about a dozen isolated palm groves within the preserve, the largest being McCallum Grove.
There’s more water here than anywhere else in the preserve and the overflow allows a large and diverse community to thrive, including tiny freshwater crayfish called red swamp crayfish, desert pupfish and the occasional mallard duck making a brief stopover during its annual migration.
After leaving McCallum Grove to keep hiking west on marked trails out to “moon country”. You will come to an overlook that provides you with great views of the entire area.
From there you can return to the visitor’s center, or continue via the 4.2-mile Moon Country Trail Loop, or the more advanced Moon Country Canyon Extension, which adds an additional 1.63 miles round trip.
Beyond that is Pushawalla Palms, Horseshoe Palms, and Hidden Palms, which are all more strenuous hikes. While the Visitor Center is closed in the summer from June 1 through August 31, the Preserve remains open for hiking and picnicking year-round.
Coachella Valley Preserve is a nice way to spend a day with its fantastic hiking trails, and beautiful vistas, but best of all it’s free and also easy to find.
Just take Interstate 10 East to the Ramon Road exit. Turn left and follow Ramon Road and make a left turn on Thousand Palms Road. The entrance to the visitor’s center is located about two miles on the left.