Whitewater Preserve is 2,851 acres surrounded by the Bureau of Land Management’s San Gorgonio Wilderness, and includes the year-round Whitewater River. Rich riparian habitat hosts the endangered Southwest willow flycatcher and Bell’s vireo, and provides opportunity to see migrating summer tanagers and vermilion flycatchers. The canyon has a robust population of bighorn sheep, deer and bear, and is an important wildlife corridor between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. The Conservancy purchased an additional 3,200 acres in the Whitewater corridor that was donated to the Bureau of Land Management. These donated lands include sand dunes that are home to the endangered fringe-toed lizard at Windy Point, which lies at the confluence of the Whitewater and San Gorgonio Rivers.
The Conservancy's purchase and restoration of the 40,032 Whitewater Range Allotment has transformed a black water cattle wallow into crystal clear waters.
The Wildlands Conservancy’s acquisitions included 1,280 acres that had been subdivided into 40-acre parcels deep inside the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Roads to the subdivision have been removed and the integrity of the wilderness has been restored. The Conservancy also purchased the 40,032-acre BLM range allotment as a means to retire all cattle grazing in the Whitewater Watershed.
Over the past ten years, the Whitewater River has transformed from black water cattle wallows to crystal clear waters. Other restoration efforts involved removing 19 neglected houses and commercial structures at the old trout farm along with diseased non-native elm trees. These impacted lands have been restored with native sycamores, cottonwoods, flowering ash, alders, narrow-leaved willows, native shrubs and substantial wetlands. Legislation is pending to make the Whitewater River a National Wild and Scenic River.
The Whitewater Trout Farm's historic building has been transformed into a visitor facility and ranger station.
Other visitor facilities include individual and group picnic areas and campgrounds that are overshadowed by steep vertical cliffs where bighorn sheep are often spotted.
There is a trailhead leading to the Pacific Crest Trail and paver paths around the ponds for the elderly. Fishing is limited to organized catch and release programs for kids in which all equipment is provided.
The preserve is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days, or in the event of dangerous weather conditions.
Permits for preserve camping, backcountry trip parking, and afterhours hiking are available at the preserve ranger station during open hours, in person or by phone.
For additional information or to make a reservation for an interpretive program or the campground, call the preserve at 760.325.7222.
Trail Map and Checklists
This scenic property lies at the end of Whitewater Canyon Road, northwest of Palm Springs, off Interstate 10.
9160 Whitewater Canyon Road
Whitewater, CA 92282
Summer Activities at Whitewater Preserve
- Most of our events are held outdoors, so bring your hat and sunscreen, walking shoes, and a bottle of water.
- Programs are free of charge, and donations are always greatly appreciated.
- When you arrive at the Preserve please check the whiteboard to find the daily activity schedule.
- Whitewater Preserve Regularly scheduled programs calendar
The wetlands within Whitewater Canyon attract many local and migrating birds. Join us for a walk through different habitats while looking for some of the more than 216 bird species that frequent the preserve. Bring binoculars and scopes. Bird walks are held on Tuesdays and start at 8 am and end around 10:30 am.
Record your outdoor adventure at Whitewater Preserve. We will supply the cardboard and paper for nature journals that you can decorate. Held Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Help us care for the preserve this summer, by helping us pick-up litter around the picnic area. Check-in at the Ranger station.
Color a wildlife picture or create your own art work inspired by Whitewater. We will supply paper and color pencils. Held Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Meet a Tree
Visit one of our largest cottonwood trees with a Naturalist. Learn the tree’s story through close observation, drawing and sharing. Held Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Learn how to use binoculars and explore bird habitats and bird nests of
Whitewater Canyon. Held Saturday or Sunday mornings.
Gather at a cool shady spot to listen to one of our children’s story books. Held Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
Sponge Relay Race
Pass a soaking wet sponge down the line to fill up a bucket with water. The first team to fill the bucket wins. We will also talk about what is a drought. Held Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
Group Programs Available by Request
- LEAVE NO TRACE - This program reviews the seven Leave No Trace Principles in a fun and creative way that fosters cooperation and team building.
- GET TO KNOW YOUR DESERT'S WATERSHED - This slideshow program traces water from the snows of Mt. San Gorgonio to the faucets of Coachella Valley residents and on to the Salton Sea.
- CANYON WALK - Enjoy an introductory one-hour walk and learn about The Wildlands Conservancy as well as the ecology and natural history of Whitewater Canyon.
- PRESERVING WILDLIFE COORIDORS - Whitewater Preserve has always been a corridor for species moving between the mountains and desert.
This slideshow explores the science behind protecting land that provides species safe passage through these corridors.
- MEET A TREE - Visit one of our largest cottonwood trees with a Naturalist. Learn the tree's story through close observation, drawing and sharing.
- NEST DISPLAY - Join us to learn how to use binoculars and explore bird habitats and bird nests of Whitewater Canyon.
- Group and Scout Programs - Spring 2014
If you are interested in any of these group activities please contact the Whitewater Preserve.