Corbitt's National Parks
     Santa Rosa and
         San Jacinto Mountains
                   National Monument


2001: National Monument

Size: 272,000 acres

2008 visitors: ?

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

"The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains in southern California contain nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational and scientific values. The magnificent vistas, wildlife, land forms, and natural and cultural resources of these mountains occupy a unique and challenging position given their proximity to highly urbanized areas of the Coachella Valley." So says the proclamation issued in 2001. The National Monument encompasses more than 272,000 acres in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.

During the 1980's, the Coachella Valley underwent tremendous urban development, more than doubling the number of resorts and residences. Urban development began encroaching into the mountains. Many wished to protect the mountains from development common to wild lands throughout Southern California. Culminating years of effort among local governments, local organizations, valley residents and the BLM, the Secretary of the Interior designated portions of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains as the Santa Rosa Mountains National Scenic Area on March 31, 1990. Since then, acquisition and protection of lands within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains for conservation purposes has been the primary management focus of BLM, state and local agencies. The designation as a National Monument further demonstrates the value recognized by Congress for this magnificent area and will give added protection and prestige.

What You're Going to See

The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, which is located off State Highway 74 south of Palm Desert, was dedicated in 1996 and is open to the public seven days a week. The city of Palm Desert donated six acres in the 1990's for the current visitor center. The Friends of the Desert Mountains provides volunteers to help staff the center, which is a tourism gateway to the Monument and the Coachella Valley

The mountains rise abruptly from the desert floor to an elevation of 10,804 feet at the top of Mount San Jacinto. Visitors may take the breathtaking Palm Springs Tramway to access the high elevations. The landscape gives residents and visitors a powerful sense of place for their natural scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and extensive biodiversity and cultural values. The National Monument is home to more than 500 species, including creatures such as the Peninsular Ranges Bighorn Sheep, desert tortoise and the slender salamander, all listed federal species.

Personal Observations

This is another new National Monument supervised by the Bureau of Land Management, and not the National Park Service. As such, the Monument goals are somewhat different. The BLM seems not to put visitors centers on Monument property, and also doesn't plan on developing the land for greater visitor access. I haven't been to this one yet, so I can't give first-hand information. I've not been able to find out how many visitors it's had, nor whether a stamp is available. When I do find out, you'll be the first to know. Well, after I tell my wife. And kids. So actually you're fairly well down the list.

The BLM manages the many competing interests of the land, including mineral rights, hunting rights, preservation of species, etc. It's not a job I'd wish on a good friend. We had a family reunion at Idylwilde, a mountain town very close to this Monument, a few years ago. It's a nice area to visit.

Getting There

Take I-5 to Indio or Palm Springs, then follow Highway 111 to Palm Desert. Then go south on Highway 74 to the visitors center.

Nearby Attractions

Joshua Tree National Park is just a few miles to the east, across I-5. Beyond that, north of I-40, is Mohave National Preserve. Cabrillo National Monument is two hours to the south, in San Diego.