1/19/22: Palm Springs’ Coachella Nature Preserve

Family and friends,

Steven and I had seen what we think was our first-ever fan palm tree just a few weeks earlier in Moorea, French Polynesia. We sure didn’t imagine then that we’d soon be in Palm Springs celebrating Steven’s birthday nor lucky enough to again catch sight of the mammoth fan palm trees, let alone an oasis of them. The Coachella Valley Nature Preserve where several palm oases were located was a remarkable sanctuary made possible by a consortium of private and public agencies and we, as visitors, were the lucky beneficiaries.

Click here to read in a nicer format on our main blog or just continue below. Remember: clicking on any picture enlarges in a new window. https://bergersadventures8.blogspot.com/2022/02/11922-palm-springs-coachella-nature.html

All the best to you and your loved ones,


Ten miles east of Palm Springs in the bluffs and mesas of Indio Hills lay the 20,000-acre Coachella Valley Nature Preserve. The natural area was cooperatively managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the privately-funded The Nature Conservancy, and the state of California’s Department of Fish and Games.

Anyone living in the US is aware of the notorious San Andreas Fault and how California might one day be facing the ‘big one’ aka the earthquake. We learned that the fault ran roughly east and west through the northern part of Coachella Valley. 

We overheard a volunteer ranger say the preserve was also home to several palm oases formed because San Andreas Fault lines allow water flowing underground to rise to the surface. He mentioned the  Thousand Palms Oasis comprised California fan desert palm trees that had existed since the time of dinosaurs! 

In the center of the oasis was the Paul Wilhelm Grove, also the location of the preserve’s rustic visitor’s center.

I don’t ever remember seeing palm trees pruned on trails before as they were on this mile-long boardwalk. The trail wound past pools containing endangered desert pupfish. 

Because the Coachella Valley climate is similar to ancient Mesopotamia, dates can be grown. 

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. 

The marsh areas provided significant habitat for many plants and animals including bobcats and cougars who prefer moving in the thick vegetation or ‘feline highways’ to hunt as they move.

The preserve was home to several species of increasingly rare wildlife including the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard that depends on this unusual blowsand desert for survival. The lizard “swims” through the sand to escape predators or summer heat on the desert surface. 

We were advised to keep our hands and feet where we could see them, i.e. stay on the trails, in this sensitive habitat area because of rattlesnakes in the marsh’s deep brush. Duly noted!

Twenty-five miles of hiking trails wound through the oases, covering a few different ecosystems ranging from sand dunes, mountain canyons, or dried-up riverbeds. 

Unfortunately, the rest of the McCallum Pond Trail was closed because it was being worked on. Oh well, we figured that was a great reason to return for Steven’s birthday next year as we always like to leave something to come back to.

I wondered what scary animals lurked in this marshy area!

We then followed the Smoke Tree Ranch Trail back to the Thousand Palm oasis.

Even though we’ve spent a good chunk of time in the Southwest, we’d never heard of cattle spinach before whose range extends to Utah and Mexico. Apparently, however, the high-value forage for cattle and native browsers is common in both the Mojave and Colorado deserts. 

The preserve and, in particular, the oasis was a hidden gem in the middle of the desert!

We spent most of the afternoon lounging by the resort’s pool that backed up to one of Palm Springs’ 100 golf courses. What a life we have we keep reminding ourselves!

Next post: Hiking at Indian Canyon outside of Palm Springs.

Posted on February 26th, 2022, from Phoenix where we’re spending the last few days here hiking each morning and soaking up more sun each afternoon before returning to the much colder Denver.


4 thoughts on “1/19/22: Palm Springs’ Coachella Nature Preserve

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I’d never seen anything like them before. Just wait a bit until you see more of them in my next post, Sarah, when we hiked through Indian Canyon near Palm Springs.


  2. We always find it fascinating to study the plants which survive and even thrive in arid country, lots of them adept at surviving on limited water supplies and lots being rather savage in the spiky department in order to deter the wild foragers. Those plants always add something to the dry landscape.


  3. Steven and I were both so enchanted by the plants and trees in the reserve as they’re so lush compared to those typically found in the arid SW. thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s