This oasis with its hundreds of swaying fan palms offers sanctuary in the midst of the dry Colorado Desert. Pools fed by artesian springs and seepage from the nearby Coachella Canal form a lush wetland area. The exceptional habitat shelters a variety of both threatened or endangered and more common animal species. In thick stands of cattails, the elusive and endangered Yuma clapper rail builds its nest, while in the warm waters of the pools swims the desert pupfish, a relic species from the Pleistocene era. The Preserve is also home to the endangered Orocopia sage plant.
The 14,000-acre Dos Palmas Preserve is at the heart of the 20,000-acre Salt Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern, created to protect important biological resources. The BLM has worked with partners such as The Nature Conservancy and California Department of Fish and Game to acquire and manage this sensitive habitat, and with Ducks Unlimited to design wetland restoration projects.
Picture: palm trees on the shore of a pond at Dos Palmas Preserve.
Animals you may see here:
- Birds: The California black rail (listed by the state as Threatened) makes its home here, hiding among the cattails and bulrush. Other residents include the leaf-nosed bat and prairie falcons. The water also attracts American avocets, least bitterns, black-necked stilts, snowy egrets, osprey, lesser scaup, and buffleheads. Prairie falcons, northern harriers and loggerhead shrikes take to the air of the surrounding desert.
- Other animals: You may see the unique flat-tailed horned lizard and other reptiles, and Desert pupfish in the ponds. Colorado Valley woodrats also find a home here.
Viewing tips for this area
- Year-round: shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl and birds of prey can be seen.
- Winter is an especially good time for bird watching.
- Spring and fall: look for the many visiting songbirds.
- Spring through fall: look for the fish and reptiles.
- Summers are hot, be prepared.
- Be sure to see tips for "Ultimate Wildlife Watching."
How to get here
From Interstate 10 at Indio, take the Dillon Road offramp and turn south. At the first stoplight, just over the railroad tracks, turn left (southeast) onto Highway 111 for about 25 miles. Along the way: stay on Highway 111 at its junction with Highway 86, by taking the left fork (toward Nyland). Proceed on Highway 111 through the towns of Coachella, Thermal and Mecca, to the Salton Sea. About 10 miles southeast of Mecca, look for the Park Headquarters for the Salton Sea State Recreation Area on your right.
Opposite Park Headquarters, turn left onto Parkside Drive. Take Parkside to the end (about 2 miles) and turn right onto Desertaire Drive. Take Desertaire Drive to Powerline Road. Turn left onto Powerline Road and go about .63 miles, then turn left onto Sea Breeze Drive. Go about 1.67 miles until you see the gate. Park in the parking lot to your left; there is a restroom there. Then you can walk into the park by walking down Sea Breeze Road. In a little less than a mile, you are in the Preserve.
Size: About 14,000 acres in the Dos Palmas Preserve; about 20,000 acres in the Salt Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Management: The Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office manages the Dos Palmas Preserve, and shares management and ownership of the Salt Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern with The Nature Conservancy, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Other partners, including Ducks Unlimited, work together with the BLM on projects to protect and improve the area's biological resources.
For more information, contact: Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office, (760) 833-7100; or The Nature Conservancy, (760) 343-1234.
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Watchable Wildlife Sites