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This monument links the San Gorgonio Wilderness to Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest. It includes lush desert oases, stunning cultural sites, and thirty miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a favorite for camping, hiking, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and skiing.

The majority of roads surrounding Sand to Snow National Monument are paved and in good condition, though some are quite twisty. Driving within the monument is limited to site access and in places may require a high clearance vehicle or 4WD.

HIGHWAY 38 is a scenic road that provides access to the charming town of Forest Falls as well as many trails and campsites.

PACIFIC CREST TRAIL is the West’s most iconic trail. Northern Trailhead is off Highway 38, at Onyx Trailhead. Southern access is off I-10 at the Haugen Lehman Exit. This is a difficult trail. Open seasonally.

SAN GORGONIO PEAK is accessible from several trailheads. It can be very strenuous to get to the top, but with a spectacular view as a reward. Refer to a guidebook for details. Open seasonally.

WHITEWATER CANYON ROAD, just off Interstate 10, gives access to the scenic Whitewater Preserve, the headwaters of the Whitewater River and Santa Ana River (southern California’s longest river) and the lower Monument trails system.

BIG MORONGO CANYON PRESERVE is a lush and leafy wild oasis. Stroll the Mesquite Trail’s boardwalks through a marshy maze of willows and cottonwoods. Nearly 250 avian species have been spotted at this jungle-like wetland surrounding Big Morongo Creek.

There are no services available within the Monument itself.

A view to the Sand to Snow National Monument
A desert tortoise in the Mojave

 

Visitor information is available at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Mission Creek Preserve, Whitewater Preserve, Mill Creek Ranger Station and Barton Flats Visitor Center.

 
Many surrounding communities offer gas, food and lodging. Locations with more limited services are:
Forest Falls – Market and Restaurants
Oak Glen – Restaurants and Shops
Pioneertown – Restaurant and Music Venue
 
Camping is readily available in the western portion of the Monument. Many campsites are suitable for car camping, though access to some requires a high clearance or 4WD vehicle. Group and equestrian campsites are available.

 

Travel with plenty of water. Don’t assume you can find drinks on your trip. The average adult needs a minimum of half a gallon of water a day.

Always start with a full tank of gas. Fill up when you pass a station, even if you still have plenty of fuel. It may be a long distance to the next station.

Cellphone reception can be spotty to nonexistent. Don’t rely on your phone or GPS maps to navigate. Always carry an up-to-date printed map of the area.

Think before you leave paved roads! If an incident occurs on a remote road, it can be a long time until help arrives. Be safe and drive with care.

Climb to the top of Mt San Gorgonio – on a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Whitney! It’s a tough hike, so be prepared.

Watch bird migration at Big Morongo Preserve. Be sure to bring binoculars! Peak season is late March through mid-May.

Hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail – Easy-ish: Cottonwood to Mission Creek. Challenging: Onyx to Whitewater

Whitewater Preserve – Take a family picnic and walk the 3.6 mile Whitewater Canyon Loop Trail, accessible year-round. After the hike it will feel so good to dip your feet in that cold, clear river water!

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