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Big Morongo Canyon
Getaways Close to Home > Big Morongo Canyon (CA) 
15 miles north of Palm Springs, California.
Big Morongo Creek rises to the surface for just 3 miles between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts before it disappears underground again. The resulting desert canyon oasis was used for centuries by nomadic Native Americans, who found water and game plentiful here. More than 235 bird species have been observed in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, including several rare species. Many additional transient species are present during the spring and fall migration seasons. Water also attracts desert bighorn sheep, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, and other mammals. The preserve is listed as a Watchable Wildlife site.
From Palm Springs, travel about 3 miles west on Interstate 10 to State Highway 62. Travel north on State Highway 62 for 11.5 miles to Morongo Valley. Turn right on East Drive and go about 200 yards to the preserve entrance on the left.
Visitor Activities
Birdwatching, plant viewing, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and guided tours.
Special Features
One of the 10 largest cottonwood and willow riparian habitats in California, the stream here is a lifeline for migrating and breeding birds, such as indigo buntings and yellow-breasted chats. Threatened yellow-billed cuckoos and endangered least Bell’s vireos have also been spotted in Big Morongo Canyon. Dawn and dusk are the best times to watch for raccoons, bobcats, and foxes; bighorn sheep are most likely to be seen in summer.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
No fees. No unauthorized vehicles or bicycles are permitted beyond the parking lot. No dogs or other pets are allowed in the preserve. Firearms and hunting are restricted. Smoking is not allowed. Hiking and horseback riding are permitted on designated trails only.
Some portions of the trails are wheelchair-accessible. Contact BLM for details.
Camping and Lodging
Primitive camping is available at Morongo Valley Park, 5 miles north of Big Morongo Canyon on State Highway 62. Camping is free. Developed camping is available at the Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park, about 10 miles north of Morongo Valley on State Highway 62. Lodging is available in Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs (about 11 miles southeast), and Yucca Valley (about 10 miles northeast on State Highway 62).
Food and Supplies
Food and supplies are available in Morongo Valley.
First Aid
No first aid is available on-site. The Avalon Urgent Care Center is in Yucca Valley, and the nearest hospital is located in Palm Springs.
Additional Information
The preserve is open daily from 7:30 a.m.–sunset. Picnic facilities, restrooms, and detailed trail maps are available at the preserve. Winter, fall, and spring are the best times of the year to visit this area. The preserve has a desert climate with hot, dry summers and moderate winters. Rainfall is scarce, and winter and spring nighttime temperatures can be cool.
Contact Information
BLM - Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Attn: Preserve Manager
P.O. Box 780
Morongo Valley, CA 92256
Tel: (760) 363-7190              

Big Morongo Canyon Map

Big Morongo Canyon

Big Morongo Canyon’s boardwalk offers visitors the opportunity to explore the abundant plant and animal life at this unique desert oasis. (Doran Sanchez, BLM California Desert District Office)

Last updated: 10-23-2009