Coachella Valley Refuge is almost entirely closed to the public to protect the Coachella Valley Federally-listed threatened fringe-toed lizard. However, the nearby Center for Natural Lands Management Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve has a Visitors™ Center and a gated parking lot at the hub of their trail system at 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road, Thousand Palms, CA. The CNLM Preserve gates are open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from May through September and from 7:00 am to 5:00 p.m. October through April. The parking area at the Visitors™ Center is small so large groups should call ahead.
This charming old building was built in the 1930s and 1940s and contains displays of the natural and historic features of the CNLM and CV Preserves. It is closed in the summer from June 1 through August 31, but the preserve remains open for hiking and picnicking year-round. The Visitor Center hours are dependent on the availability of Volunteer staffing. Call the Visitors™ Center to confirm the current hours of operation at 760-343-2733.
From the Visitors™ Center, 28 miles of trails lead to a wide range of habitats. From easy to moderately difficult, from flat terrain to ridges, hikes of all varieties are available for your enjoyment. There are several designated equestrian trails as well as hiking. Currently there are no bike trails or dog-friendly trails available.
Established in 1985 as part of the Coachella Valley Preserve, the Refuge serves as a sanctuary for the rare Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and many other desert dwelling species. This lizard, federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is not found any where else in the world. The 3,709-acre Refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
The Coachella Valley Preserve System, on the other hand, is cooperatively managed by the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve , the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Area of Conservation and Ecological Concern (ACEC), the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coachella Valley Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) Ecological Reserve and the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) Indio Hills State Park. BLM is the largest landowner. The BLM ACEC surrounds the Thousand Palms Preserve. The size of the entire Coachella Valley Preserve System is just over 18,000 acres.
Both the Refuge and the Preserve protect the only remaining undeveloped sand dune ecosystem within the Coachella Valley. This blow-sand habitat is home to one of the most ecologically diverse communities found in the deserts of North America. Furthermore, many of the species of plants and animals that the dunes provide a home for are extremely rare, found only in this particular area. These species have evolved through time leaving them dependent on this dynamic sand dune habitat.
The refuge also provides for the only significant acreage that is not subject to multiple uses from the recreating public; however, this system is in jeopardy as development threatens sand sources and their travel corridors.
Coachella Valley Refuge is almost entirely closed to the public to protect the Coachella Valley Federally-listed threatened fringe-toed lizard.