Description - San Jacinto Mountain is the highest point along the Peninsular Range Province, rising to an elevation of 10,804 feet above mean sea level as the result of fault block activity. Down below in the Coachella Valley, elevations range from below mean sea level to several hundred feet, resulting in an abrupt vertical relief of more than 10,000 feet on the steep eastern face of San Jacinto Mountain. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains provide the world-renowned scenic backdrop to Palm Springs and the desert communities of the Coachella Valley.
The legislation designating the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Congress found the following: "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."
The National Monument encompasses more than 272,000 acres in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The Bureau of Land Management (86,400 acres) and the U.S. Forest Service (64,400 acres) cooperatively manage the landscape. Other landowners within the monument boundary include California Department of Fish and Game, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (23,000 acres), California Department of Parks and Recreation (8,500 acres), county-city regional lands, private lands, and the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. Private lands and other agencies occupy nearly 90,000 acres.
More than 500 plant and animal species, including the federally listed Peninsular bighorn sheep make their home in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.
- As outlined by Congress, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is an area of magnificent vistas, wildlife, landforms, and natural and cultural resources. There are many outstanding destinations and just a few mentioned below.
San Jacinto Mountain is home to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes visitors by cable car from the desert up 6,000 feet to alpine forests in 15 minutes. The top of San Jacinto Mountain is managed by the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness. In the winter, visitors leave the balmy desert to cross-country ski on top of San Jacinto Mountain. In the summer, visitors escape the oppressive heat to hike in temperate alpine forests.
The Palm Canyon Fault, which runs along the base of San Jacinto Mountain, is part of the San Andreas Fault System. In the desert, native fan palm oases and cottonwood / willow riparian areas form where there is surface water, providing a critically needed source of food and water for desert wildlife, and delightful places for humans to visit.
The Indian Canyons, located at the base of San Jacinto Mountain and managed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, boasts the largest system of native fan palm oases in the United States. Visitors from around the world come to visit these spectacular oases nestled in steep rocky canyons where the force of running water over the millennia have carved the rocks into curvaceous pools and waterfalls. Higher up the canyon walls, the rocks sheen with the beautiful patina of desert varnish.
The Santa Rosa Mountains have been the homeland of hundreds of generations of Cahuilla, whose culture has been described and recorded in numerous publications. Direct evidence links the tribe to this area for at least 3,000 years. Within the Santa Rosas are sacred sites, such as the peak of the Santa Rosa Mountain and Tahquitz Peak, and landscape features that are of great importance to Cahuilla history. Within the mountain range, Cahulla villages were generally located in or near the mouth of a canyon or in a valley, and in some instances there were both summer and winter villages with the former being at higher elevations and the latter closer to the valley floor. A network of trails connect village sites, campsites, and other areas of importance.
Associated with some of the springs along the base of the San Jacinto Mountains is hot mineral water, heated at depth probably by emanating gases and hydrothermal activity associated with the San Andreas Fault zone. This hot mineral water is of excellent quality, and is available to visitors at world-class spas throughout the Coachella Valley.
Generous contributions from local communities and private interest groups provided land and monies for the new Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. The visitor center is open seven days a week although it is best to call ahead during the extremely hot summer season for hours of operation. The center provides visitors information about the natural history, cultural resources and recreational opportunities in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The Friends of the Desert Mountains operate a nonprofit bookstore at the visitor center.
Many miles of trails can be found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains which provide beautiful scenic vistas and natural treasures to be discovered by hikers, bikers, and equestrian trail users. The trails are popular with local residents and visitors and there is a great deal of interest to maintain the trail system. Unfortunately, some of these trails traverse Peninsular Ranges, bighorn sheep lambing habitat, and are subject to seasonal voluntary closures. No dogs are permitted on the trails located on BLM lands.
Wilderness areas are places where wildness is supreme - where man is a visitor who does not remain. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument contains four wilderness areas comprising of 94,590 acres. These areas are administered by three different agencies- BLM, USFS, and California State Parks. Of these, 84,310 acres are federal wilderness and are administered under the Wilderness Act of 1964. All of these areas contain outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive types of recreation. Motorized vehicles, bicycles, or any other form of mechanized equipment is prohibited in these areas to protect the solitude and primitive nature of these special places.
The BLM and Forest Service permits hunting within the National Monument in accordance with applicable laws of the United States and the State of California.
Recreation - From wilderness hiking to cultural exploration, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument has it all -- camping, sightseeing, and guided tours.
Climate - A warm, dry Mediterranean climate prevails over Southern California - inland it is hot in the summer, mild in the winter. Coastal areas have a more moderate climate with frequent fog in the summer. Most of the precipitation comes as rain during the winter months. The best seasons to visit are spring and fall. Summer are usually hot and winters are cold with occasional snow. Dress appropriately.
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is located west of the resort town of Palm Springs / Interstate 10.