Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refugeupdated: August 2013
The Coachella Valley is located at the northern extension of the Colorado Desert and is bordered by the Salton Sea to the south and the Little San Bernandino Mountains to the north. Sand that washes down drainages during flood events accumulates at the bottom of the drainages, then is dispersed throughout the Valley by the continual high winds that blow through the area. This ever-shifting sand forms a complex system of sand dunes that support a variety of native desert species.

Established in 1985 as part of the Coachella Valley Preserve, the Refuge serves as a sanctuary for the rare Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and many other desert dwelling species. This lizard, federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is not found any where else in the world.
 
The 3,709-acre Refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Preserve, on the other hand, is cooperatively managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Center for Natural Lands Management. Both the Refuge and the Preserve protect the only remaining undeveloped sand dune ecosystem within the Coachella Valley. This blow-sand habitat is home to one of the most ecologically diverse communities found in the deserts of North America. Furthermore, many of the species of plants and animals that the dunes provide a home for are extremely rare, found only in this particular area. These species have evolved through time leaving them dependent on this dynamic sand dune habitat.

Recreation:

Currently, a 24-foot wide corridor designed for public hiking and equestrian use occurs along the west Refuge boundary, and through the northern portion of the Refuge (see map). Because the main objective of the Refuge is to protect designated critical habitat for wildlife threatened with extinction, we ask that you stay on the trail at all times. The remainder of the Refuge is closed to public entry.
 
Another trail is available at nearby Thousand Palms Oasis. This trail, the McCallum Trail winds through the Thousand Palms Oasis, crosses over the San Andreas fault and through a wash before ending at the lovely McCallum Palm Grove. The distance to the grove is 1 mile. While the path is fairly level, there are areas of soft sand. You will need to retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Brochures with information about longer hikes and equestrian trails can be picked up at the Thousand Palms Visitor Center.
 
Pets are not allowed anywhere on the Refuge or Preserve. Please bring plenty of water to drink and wear good walking shoes. There is no smoking allowed in the palm oasis.
 
The Coachella Valley is one of the fastest developing areas in the country, with as many as 40,000 people visiting the Refuge and Preserve each year. The Center for Natural Lands Management owns and operates a visitor center at the Thousand Palms Oasis which is open to the public and operated primarily by volunteers. Popular activities on the Preserve include hiking, wildlife observation, horseback riding, and photography. The preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset, closing July and August. Because the Preserve encompasses lands under the jurisdiction of five different agencies, rules regulating public use vary dramatically from one area to another.
 
For general information or questions, please call the Coachella Valley NWR at 760-348-5278, or call the Thousand Palms Visitor Center at 760-343-2733. Individuals and groups are welcome to visit the Preserve. Commercial groups are requested to call for reservations.

Directions to NWR:

  • From Interstate 10 East, take the Highway 86S exit towards Brawley/El Centro. Continue south on Highway 86S for approximately 15 miles. Turn left on Route 195 (also called 66th Ave). At the next stop sign, turn right onto Highway 111 and continue south for approximately 60 miles. Once you pass through Niland, continue south 4 miles to Sinclair Road and turn right. Head west on Sinclair Road until you arrive to the Refuge Headquarters parking lot (Sinclair Road ends at this point).
  • From Interstate 10 West, take the Dillon Rd. exit south towards Highway 86S. Head south on Highway 86S approximately 15 miles. Turn left on Route 195 (also called 66th Ave). At the next stop sign, turn right onto Highway 111 and continue south for approximately 60 miles. Once you pass through Niland, continue south 4 miles to Sinclair Road and turn right. Head west on Sinclair Road until you come to the Refuge sign (Sinclair Road ends at this point).
  • Any questions, please call the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters at  (760) 348-5278.


Contact Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge


Contact Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Christian Schoneman
Project Leader - Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex
906 West Sinclair Rd.
Calipatria, California  92233
Phone: 760-348-5278
Fax: 760-348-7245


 

Service Area

Services provided in:
  • Riverside County, California


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