Palm Desert, CA
- Riverside County, northeast of San Diego, 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles
- National Park
This National Monument preserves no less than 252,000 acres in both the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountain ranges. Although these ranges spread close to such desert communities as Palm Springs, San Bernardino, and San Diego, they are green and well-forested. They're also home to a number of rare animal species, as well as all that vegetation. That the desert tortoise is protected here may be no surprise - that there is a large population of the very endangered Peninsular Ranges Bighorn Sheep may be a little more startling. The slender salamander is another rare animal that lives within the monument.
The Monument is almost entirely wilderness, meant for hiking rather than driving. The Visitor Center in Palm Desert is a must visit before you explore further - you'll want maps for those hiking trails.
Once you're out in the Monument itself, several sites are definitely worth visiting. These mountain ranges have been occupied for centuries and are scattered with archaeological finds. Among these are the fascinating Clark Lake Petroglyphs just east of Rockhouse Canyon's mouth and the Martinez Canyon Rockhouse within the Santa Rosa Mountains Wilderness Area. Perhaps even older, natural hot springs bubble along the base of the San Jacinto Mountain portion of the Monument.