You don’t have to slog for miles to find water in the desert with the Whitewater River, a year-round stream, just off Interstate 10. The best way to experience this waterway is by visiting the Whitewater Preserve, a beautiful oasis managed by The Wildlands Conservancy. Only a 30-minute drive from Palm Springs, the Whitewater Preserve spans more than 2,851 acres. The visitors’ facility is a renovated historic building from its time as a fish hatchery. There are picnic tables, shaded benches and two ponds with fish, making for a relaxing visit. Or you could choose to be more active by heading out on the trailhead that leads to the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
For the truly adventurous, you can access the Pacific Crest Trail and go 2,445 miles to Canada or 219 miles to Mexico! If you’re looking for a shorter hike, the Canyon View Loop Trail is 3.5 miles and a perfect hiking trail for beginners with excellent views of the canyon and riverbed crossings. There are many scenic spots for a picnic by the river or in the canyon.
The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Permits are required for camping, backcountry trip parking, and afterhours hiking. The preserve also hosts many free programs, but reservations are required.
The cooler winter temps make this a great season to enjoy beautiful desert landscape in the Whitewater River Watershed.