Refreshing palm oases, intriguing wildlife and miles of hiking trails draw visitors annually to the Coachella Valley Preserve.  Located in Thousand Palms, California, it’s home to more than 183 species of birds and other wildlife, including the rare Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard, which relies on the preserve’s sand dune system habitat for survival.

The trail to the pond.

The Coachella Valley Preserve is an excellent bird and wildlife viewing location due to its abundance of trees, palms and watering holes.  The palm oases have cropped up in various areas of the preserve where the water has risen to the surface, creating small ponds and marshy zones.

Lizard on the trail.

The Visitor’s Center is located off of 1000 Palms Rd. in a large, shady palm oasis.  Its little building was once the cabin of Paul Wilhelm, who built it from palm trunks in the late1930’s.  Wilhelm welcomed visitors, inviting them to enjoy the palm groves, hiking trails and ponds.  Wanting to safeguard the land and to keep it open and available for the public to enjoy, he contacted his neighbors to try to arrange its future. Fortunately for the preserve, this group of philanthropists all agreed to merge their land to conserve the area for future generations.

The land is now managed by several agencies in partnership, including the Center for Natural Lands Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California State Parks department, the Coachella Valley Water District and the Friends of the Desert Mountain.  Together these entities administer the preserve, create the rules that govern it, and enforce their mutually agreed upon policies.

The Thousand Palms Preserve is the largest of three preserves within the Coachella Valley Preserve. The Coachella Valley Preserve and the Thousand Palms Preserve area within it have designated hiking trails, but no jeeps or vehicles are allowed on the trail systems.  As a designated “Area of Conservation and Ecological Concern,” the rules for these preserves differ from other BLM land holdings.  The lower third of the region is off limits to visitors to protect the habitat of the endangered Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard. Seasonal tours of the protected dunes areas are available, but access is restricted.

There are still plenty of trails to hike. There is a two-mile loop, an easy walk/hike from the Visitor’s Center to a nearby pond and palm oases, where a couple of picnic tables stand in the shade by the water.  It’s a great place to take photos of birds and to watch the wildlife.

If you visit the preserve be sure to take plenty of water and some snacks, though water is sold in the Visitor’s Center if you need it.  The Visitor’s Center also has a number of photos and artifacts showing the colorful history of the Preserve area.

For more information contact the Coachella Valley Preserve at …

Parking Lot Hours
7 am – 6 pm

Visitor Center Hours
Hours are approximate, as they reflect the volunteer base

September 1 – October 15
April 15 to May 31
8 AM – 12 Noon

October 15  through April 15
8 AM – 4 PM

June, July and August

Visitors and Groups Welcome.   Commercial groups please call ahead
as we have limited parking
Please take care if driving an RV or a 5th wheel… parking is limited.

For information please call:
Visitor Center 760-343-2733
Preserve Office 760-343-1234

Trail and Oasis Rules
Please, no fires or smoking.
No pets allowed on the preserve.
No collecting allowed on the preserve.  Enjoy photography instead.
Stay on marked trails…no off-trail hiking.

Previous articleSiblings of SoCal, Calico Ghost Town & Knott’s Berry Farm
Next articleA Day at the Chuckwalla Valley Racetrack in Desert Center, CA
Lynn Bremner is the author of, a blog about desert road trips and tips. She started the blog after moving to Indio, CA where she now resides. Now a true desert dweller, Lynn has added in some of her own views on desert living. The heat does not keep her indoors in the summertime. She is out running, golfing or taking short day trips to some of the local points of interest. After years of traveling along the dusty, desert trails with her father, she has come to appreciate the beauty and solitude of the desert landscape. Her father’s passion for prospecting, desert lore and exploring the desert parks took their family to many interesting places, mostly in California, Nevada and Arizona. Lynn now writes about her desert road trips and intertwines a little bit of desert living into the mix.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here