Palm Desert

Friends of the Desert Mountains

The mission of the Friends of the Desert Mountains is to preserve land, to support education, conservation and research in the Coachella Valley, and to act as the support organization for the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

As Friends of the Desert Mountains, we are dedicated to building a community of support to help preserve the unique wildlife and scenic beauty of the Coachella Valley and our Desert Mountains. We acquire and preserve wildlands, promote stewardship of trails, conduct educational programs, and support ecological research.Friends of the Desert Mountains works with biologists, conservationists, and government agencies to identify key lands for protection. We select land for its scenic, biological, recreational, or cultural significance, and then offer to purchase it from willing sellers at fair market value. Through these key acquisitions, we give permanent protection to the beauty, character, and diversity of the Coachella Valley.

We have spent 30 years in conservation and have achieved many successes, but we know that without the support of future generations, our preservation efforts may be in vain. We have made it our mission to reach out to tomorrow’s leaders. We steward the land, support the National Monument Visitor Center, and educate the community. We go into the field with kids, lead hikes, and give classes. By doing so, we hope to reveal the wonders of the fragile desert and mountains we call home and instill an environmental awareness that will last a lifetime.

Our Vision

The Friends’ vision for the Coachella Valley is a thriving and productive community integrated with a healthy and sustainable natural environment.

Our Values


  • We are dedicated to permanently protecting the critical natural resources in the Coachella Valley.


  • From our inception, our success relies on important partnerships that include tribal nations, government agencies at all levels as well as other nonprofit groups.


  • We engage all ages to reveal the wonders of the fragile desert and mountains we call home and instill an environmental awareness that we hope lasts a lifetime.

Access for All

  • We strive to connect everyone to the land, so that all residents and visitors feel welcomed, respected, and supported in the outdoors.

Diversity as a Way of Life

Diversity is a core principle and overarching goal of the Friends of the Desert Mountains. Just as natural systems thrive on diversity, so does our organization. The Friends seek to cultivate a social ecology that is inclusive, supportive, celebrates individuality and diversity, cultivates love and appreciation for our differences, and respects our freedom, commitment and experiences.

What We’ve Achieved

From San Gorgonio Pass to the Salton Sea, Friends of the Desert Mountains has protected over 60,000 acres. We currently manage and monitor over 17,000 acres of conservation land. Taken together, these wildlands have:

  • Preserved a unique wildlife movement corridor between two mountain ranges at the west end of of the Coachella Valley. This vital connection gives wildlife the ability to move and respond to climate change and other human impacts, and protects the scenic gateway to the Coachella Valley and the extraordinary views of the San Jacinto escarpment.

  • Conserved incredibly rare desert riparian habitat by acquiring the historic Whitewater Trout Farm, thereby facilitating its conversion to an outdoor education center owned and managed by the Wildlands Conservancy. The site also includes a section of the famed Pacific Crest Trail, preserving a link in a chain of recreational opportunities spanning over 2,500 miles.

  • Expanded the Willow Hole and Thousand Palms Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard preserves and protected the essential sand source and sand transport areas that maintain these unique and endangered habitats. The dune and mesquite hummock systems found in the Coachella Valley are home to an array of species found nowhere else on earth.

  • Preserved sections of the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway, the only paved road through the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, and provides dramatic views for tens of thousands of people whose only exposure to the Monument is by driving this road. These lands have also protected critical habitat in the heart of the range of the endangered peninsular population of bighorn sheep.

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