Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve is one of the best things to do in the Palm Springs area if you want to take a closer look at the desert and its curious inhabitants. Established in 1985, this more than 20,000-acre reserve offers desert nature in its purest form. More than anything, it is a wildlife refuge, so you can expect to see a variety of animals while exploring the desert terrain. A variety of plants also call the Coachella Valley Preserve home, and these plants include California fan palm trees, which can live up to 200 years. The palms are clustered in various groves and have led to part of the preserve being labeled as the Thousand Palm Oasis.

The Coachella Valley Preserve can be found approximately ten miles east of Palm Springs in the Indio Hills area. Fault lines that are part of the San Andreas Fault in Palm Springs run through the area, and they have everything to do with the fan palms in the Thousand Palm Oasis section. The fault lines serve as barriers to water that is flowing underground. This water, in turn, is pushed to the service, creating lush environments. Eleven different palm groves surround ponds at the Coachella Valley Preserve, lending a tropical feel to the overall desert terrain. Hiking in this Thousand Palm Oasis zone can be a real treat, especially since the shade that the palms provide can help keep the heat at bay. It's approximately ten degrees cooler in the shade of the dense palm groves.

The Coachella Valley Preserve is actually more of a preserve system than a singular preserve. Three separate units combine to create the larger preserve system, and they include the Thousand Palm Oasis. This oasis covers 17,000 acres and features some very popular hiking trails. Self-guided hiking tours are possible, and you can also consider dropping by the visitor center to take part in a guided hiking tour. The Thousand Palm Oasis visitor center, it is worth noting, is an old log house museum of sorts. Inside, visitors can check out period furniture and some interesting photographs that offer insight into the area's earlier days.

The San Andreas Fault in Palm Springs doesn't only help to create lush palm groves. The various fault lines are also partly responsible for creating sand dunes. The dunes at the Coachella Valley Preserve are home to the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, and as is true of the dunes themselves, these lizards are endangered. You won't find Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards anywhere else in the world, so you might keep a special eye out for them when traveling among the dunes. The approximately 3,000-acre dunes refuge area does not feature hiking trails, though you can pass through on horseback.

As you might expect, dogs are not allowed on the Coachella Valley Preserve. As such, dog owners who are looking to do some hiking with their four-legged friends might venture over to La Quinta or Palm Desert to access the dog-friendly trails that these area cities have to offer. At the Coachella Valley Preserve, it is also important to note that hiking off the marked trails is prohibited. Smoking and making fires of any kind are activities that are also discouraged.

When outdoor enthusiasts aren't checking out the Coachella Preserve palm groves that can be found along the San Andreas Fault in Palm Springs, they might head to the nearby Salton Sea area to explore the recreational opportunities found there. Hiking in the Indian Canyons and spending some time at the Living Desert are also recommended, especially if exploring Southern California desert regions is high on your list of things to do on a Palm Springs vacation.

Due to the excessive summer heat, these areas and the region in general are best explored outside of the summer months. In fact, during the months of July and August, the Coachella Valley Preserve visitors center is closed. During the months of September, May, and June, the visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to noon, while during October through April it is open between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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