The barren hills in the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area create an interesting pattern across this desert landscape.
Desert cactus in bloom Dos Palmas Windmills at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains Firefighter working a prescribed burn Bighorn Sheep
BLM>California>Palm Springs-South Coast>SRSJM National Monument>History
Print Page
Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

History of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountain Range rises dramatically from below sea level in the Colorado Desert to the snow-capped San Jacinto Peak at 10,804 feet.  The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument runs from the Coachella Valley floor to the crest of the mountains encompassing magnificent palm oases, abundant wildlife, rich cultural treasures and diverse recreational opportunities.  It is the first congressionally designated national monument cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service.  The legislation sets a community-based approach as the foundation for conserving and managing the monument.  Management partners include BLM, Forest Service, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, California Department of Parks & Recreation, and other State of California agencies.

Congresswoman Mary Bono introduced legislation (HR 3676) to Congress on February 16, 2000 for the establishment of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.  Representative Bono, the Department of the Interior and other interests negotiated changes for the amended bill that passed the House by voice vote on July 25, 2000.  A companion bill (S. 2784) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Feinstein on July 26, 2000.  The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Act of 2000 became law on October 24, 2000.

The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument encompasses 272,000 acres, including lands in the San Bernardino National Forest and the Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness Park.   Acreage in the monument is as follow: 86,400 BLM;  64,400  Forest Service; 23,000 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; 8,500 California Department of Parks & Recreation; 34,500 other State of California agencies; and 55,200 private.

The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains contain nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational and scientific values.  In the Monument, the desert floor meets steep, dissected mountain slopes and rises through five distinct life zones, from Sonoran Desert to Arctic Alpine.  The National Monument provides both the scenic back drop to Coachella Valley cities and habitat for more than 500 species of plants, magnificent fan palm oases, and for a suite of federally listed threatened and endangered species, including the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, California Red-legged Frog, Southern Yellow Bat, Desert Tortoise, Desert Slender Salamander, and the Least Bell's Vireo. 

The Santa Rosa Mountains have been the homeland of hundreds of generations of Cahuilla, whose culture has been described and recorded in numerous publications.  Direct evidence links the tribe to this area for at least 3,000 years.  Within the Santa Rosas are sacred sites such as Agua Alta, and landscape features which are of great importance to Cahuilla history.  Cahuilla villages were generally located in or near the mouth of canyons or in a valley. In some instances there were both summer villages at higher elevations and winter villages closer to the valley floor. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains are a physical manifestation of their heritage and many of the cultural sites in these mountains may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historical Places.


1. Protect biological resources, including the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep, palm oases and other native species and communities.

2. Protect cultural resources including working collaboratively with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

3. Protect the scenic backdrop of the Coachella Valley communities including scenic corridors and visitor gateways.

4. Provide recreational opportunities and visitor services for people to experience and enjoy the biological resources and scenic value of the monument.

5. Support the above goals through partnerships, cooperative management planning and a land acquisitions program, as authorized by legislation.

6. Ensure the success of the community-based conservation model established by the National Monument legislation by cultivating partnerships, cooperative management, and shared management goals.

Bureau of Land Management
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains 
National Monument Visitor Center

51-500 Highway 74
Palm Desert, California 92260
Phone:  (760) 862-9984
Open Wednesday through Monday  
Closed Tuesday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Oct - May
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Jun - Sep
Contact us by Email

Bureau of Land Management
Palm Springs South Coast Field Office
1201 Bird Center Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
Phone: (760) 833-7100
Fax: (760) 833-7199
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
Contact us by Email