Whitewater Proposed Wild and Scenic River
The California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act proposes to protect as a Wild and Scenic River more than 28 miles of the Whitewater River, and its North, Middle, and South Forks.
The Whitewater River flows freely from the Mt. San Gorgonio Summit (11,499 feet) for more than 30 miles to the Coachella Valley. An area of high ecological significance, the Whitewater River is one of the most pristine and remote watersheds in southern California. The Whitewater River is an important ceremonial and cultural area for traditional Cahuilla Indians, who visit the river to collect and gather native materials.
The river provides a critical biological link between the San Bernardino Mountains and Coachella Valley, and important habitat for such diverse species as the California spotted owl, Nelson’s bighorn sheep, and arroyo toad. The river’s rich riparian vegetation is a seasonal home to endangered neo-tropical songbirds, including least Bell’s vireo and southwest willow flycatcher.
Much of the upper watershed is virtually trail-less, but the lower river may be easily accessed from Interstate 10 by visiting The Wildland Conservancy’s Whitewater River Preserve, where a trailhead along the Pacific Crest Trail parallels and then crosses the river.