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Whitewater Wild and Scenic River

The Whitewater River originates high on the 11,499-foot Mount San Gorgonio in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and includes the North, Middle and South Forks. From the headwaters, the designated reach flows through the San Bernardino Mountains for 28 miles to the Coachella Valley area. This river is jointly managed by BLM and Forest Service.

The river's outstandingly remarkable values include its highly diverse, colorful and striking scenery, with regionally unique headwater springs and steep, textured canyon walls. Wildlife viewing opportunities are also outstanding as the river corridor provides a critical link between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, supporting a large amount of quality remote, pristine and diverse habitat for Nelson's bighorn sheep, California spotted owl, mule deer, black bear and arroyo toad. The riparian habitat seasonally hosts endangered neo-tropical songbirds, including the least Bell's vireo and southwest willow flycatcher. The Whitewater River is also an important ceremonial and cultural area for traditional Cahuilla Indians, who visit the river to collect and gather native materials.

 

Outstandingly Remarkable Values

Bighorn sheep petroglyph. Fish. Heron. Person in canoe. Camera. Leaf.

Cultural

The canyon, home territory of the Wanakik lineage of Cahuilla Indians, is considered to be an important collecting and gathering area, and contains ceremonial sites and Native American sensitive areas.

Fish and Wildlife

The canyon provides outstanding habitat for the state and federally listed endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Arroyo Southwestern Toad, Least Bell's Vireo, as well as the Summer Tanager, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Gray Vireo and Crissal Thrasher.

Recreation

The river transitions from the developed, desert valley to the remote, forested reaches of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The river offers numerous opportunities for primitive recreation, including hiking, backpacking, equestrian use, hunting and bird watching. The river can be accessed by the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails accessing the canyons.

California Wild and Scenic Rivers

Facts

Length:
BLM - 10.9 miles
Total - 28.1 miles

Classification:
Wild, Recreational

Date of Designation:
March 12, 2019

Designating Legislation:
Public Law 116-9

 

Quick Links

 

Contact Us

Bureau of Land Management
Palm Springs/ South Coast Field Office
1201 Bird Center Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Phone: 760-833-7100

Email: BLM_CA_Web_PS@blm.gov