Think of the desert and your mind conjures up images of dry dusty lands full of cactus and crawly things. But there is a desert oasis in Southern California that will completely transform your vision of what a desert setting looks like. At Whitewater Preserve you will find 2,851 acres of streams loaded with trout, untouched wilderness and winding trails leading you into the mountains. Just north of Palm Springs and surrounded by the San Gorgonio Wilderness this is one desert destination that you will want to add to your bucket list. The rich habitat hosts the endangered Southwest willow flycatcher and Bell’s vireo, and provides the opportunity to see migrating summer tanagers and vermilion flycatchers. The canyon, an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, has a robust wildlife population.
This desert oasis is a perfect place for a nature adventure, whether by yourself or with the family. The Whitewater Trout Farm’s historic building has been transformed into a Ranger Station and Visitor Facility. This is the best place to start your adventure. Here you can get a trail map and checklists to help identify local flora and fauna. Although there are many hiking trails, some are not always safe to access. The Ranger Station will have information on any trails that have limited access. After you have spent some time exploring, enjoy the refreshing water at the shaded picnic area.
Visitor facilities include individual and group picnic areas and camp grounds that sit in the shadow of steep cliffs where bighorn sheep are often spotted. Fishing is available, but limited to organized catch and release programs for children, in which all the equipment is supplied. There are a variety of hiking trails at Whitewater Preserve, you will find something for everyone. There are paver paths around the pond, perfect for the elderly, and a trailhead leading to the Pacific Crest Trail for the more experienced hiker. No matter what trail you take you will be out in the sun so make sure to bring a hat and use your sunscreen.
Whitewater Preserve is open daily year round from 8 am to 5 pm, closing only on certain holidays or in the event of dangerous weather conditions. Permits for camping, backcountry trip parking and after hour hiking are available at the Ranger Station during open hours.