Desert Bird Walk

Look for birds along our popular – and birdy – McCallum Trail. Expect to walk about 2.5 miles (4 km) in around 2 1/2 hours. Frank will not only talk about the birds but will help you to see the intricate relationships of birds, plants and animals: the desert experience. It is alive and filled with action. You will walk through two oases and explore the open desert, learning about the birds, the arrowweed, the mesquite, desert mistletoe and what ever else catches your interest. “If you see something, say something and we’ll try to figure out what it is,” he says.  Frank is a lifelong birder who loves the desert. He will make this accessible even to the least experienced. He is a retired teacher who loves to teach. 



Download a bird list here.


Desert Birdwalk

This leisurely desert birdwalk is about 2.5 miles (4 km) and lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours. You will look for our iconic desert birds – verdin, phainopepla, cactus wren and Say’s phoebe for example – and learn about the unique migratory patterns of birds that visit the desert such as the Northern flicker and white-crowned sparrows.  Plan on a quiet, impressionist style of birding where you will experience the beauty and fragility of this extraordinary landscape, traversing two unique oases and several water features.  Mark is a delightful guide who loves birding and sharing his love of this “sport” with others. He is an experienced birder, having extensive birding experience in other parts of the U.S. and abroad (including Morocco, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica). 

Download a bird list here.


Family Walk and Talk

This family-oriented experience provides families with younger children (aged pre-school through elementary school)  and their parents an opportunity to participate in a small group activity focused on an aspect of the Preserve. Topics can vary depending on the group but could include questions like, “where are the trees here?, what is a desert?, what animals live here (and will I see them)?, and why can’t I catch lizards? ”  This educational-focused activity includes discussions about caring for our wild places. Children will come away able to explain at least one way they can take care of our wild areas. Programs last 30-40 minutes and occur in the main grove by the picnic tables. Walks are minimal – no more than a few hundred yards. Mary is an avid desert afficionado who loves the desert and loves children. She is a retired teacher (who can’t stop giving) and a full-time valley resident. 

Reservations are NOT Required. 


Native Plants & Their Uses

This focused walk is dedicated to an exploration of the varied desert environment and the native plants that are unique to it. The hike is usually about 2.5 miles (4 km) and, depending on the group, will last around 2 1/2 hours. Marcia will focus on the unique desert environment and how it influences the forms of the plants that you will discover. From arrows to colds, discover how the Native Cahuilla people use the plants in all areas of life. Marcia is a desert transplant, moving here from Maine. She is a Master Gardener with particular interest in native plants and propagation. She is intensely curious and loves learning, a nature-lover, hiker, amateur visual artist and retired educator (who can’t stop teaching.) She practices yoga, and enjoys people. If you ask, she might give you her recipe for cookies made of mesquite flour.

Reservations are NOT Required. 



Desert Bird Walk

This relaxed bird walk is approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) and can last 2-3 hours. The focus of this walk is to learn about the Preserve and its iconic habitats, from desert wash, creosote scrub and desert palm oasis. Elise will focus on the importance of protecting natural wildlife corridors and “non-human” desert inhabitants. You will look for “the usual suspects” – our desert bird residents like the verdin, cactus wren and gnatcatchers but will look for winter visitors as well like sage thrashers and phainopeplas. Elise has been birding in the desert about 7 years. She likes to show that you don’t have to be an expert to bird. She describes herself as “far from an expert but not a novice.”  She will try to pass on her passion to you. You will also see Elise in the Visitors’ Center as a docent. 


Download a bird list here.


Oasis Walk & Talk

Walk around the Thousand Palms Oasis to learn about the flora, the fauna, the geology and the cultural history of this hidden gem of the desert. This short version (Walk and Talk) of his tour will take about an hour and will cover about a mile. The long version (Walking Tour) is about 2 miles and will take about two hours. Jack will show you all kinds of desert treasures with the hopes that he will thrill you to the awesome power and majesty of the desert. He will cover some of the basics: the “Big 5” desert plants and in particular how the native tribes use these plants. He will show you the water – where the fault springs lie – and talk about this fascinating water source. He will show you some of the interesting geological formations that you will encounter on your walk. He has volunteered as a docent, and mountain naturalist. He has been a member of the roving patrol as well as Search and Rescue. He is a keen desert naturalist, inspired by the special beauty of the desert and loves to share his impressive knowledge and loves to inspire others.



Wildflower Walk

“I wonder…” These wildflowers are, well, wonder-filled. Suzanne will take you out on the Hidden Palms Loop where you will explore our unique desert wildflowers. This hike is special and only available when the wildflowers bloom. Suzanne will cover lots of curious ground, piquing your curiosity and encouraging your questions. Suzanne is a wonderer-wanderer. She loves learning, and she loves looking and observing – which promotes more questions which then starts her learning again. It is cyclical, and she hopes to impart some of her love of the desert to you and pique your curiosity.






Explore the Ecology of a Fault Line Oasis


Walk through two separate and unique oases to see what occurs as the San Andreas fault bisects the valley. This walk will typically take about 2 1/2 hours and will take you on a 2 mile (3.2 km) round trip. The signature of this hike is that it is about what you want to learn. You will look for wildlife and wildflowers, the San Andreas fault and the California fan palm. From the Cahuilla use of medicinal plants to how the fault forms the Indio Hills, Harlan looks for teachable moments to underscore the beauty of this desert. Harlan is a retired teacher whose curiosity keeps him learning. He loves to share what he knows.