A Trip to the Desert

Last week for my daughter’s spring break, we took a family trip to Palm Springs. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the nature out there. I’d searched iNaturalist to see if there were a nearby place where amphibians could be found, with little luck. Parks that looked close on the map turned out to be a two-hour drive. A perfect little spot was closed due to the massive storm in February that had washed out roads through the mountains. Luckily the desert turned out to be much more fascinating than I had expected!

First we visited Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. It was teeming with lizards and stunning, brightly-colored birds, and had a mix of short and long trails that worked well for us.

California Scrub-Jay
Desert Spiny Lizard
Vermilion Flycatcher
Common Side-blotched Lizard

On our second day, we visited the Living Desert Zoo. We’re members at the Bronx Zoo, so I feel like we can be kind of jaded New Yorkers when it comes to some tourist attractions, but this place is completely amazing. I loved that it had a limited scope of focusing on desert animals, and the setting allows them to have habitats that are almost entirely natural. It’s easy to walk and you can see the whole thing in one visit, which we felt was a plus.

Well-camouflaged Bighorn Sheep, with babies!
Peccary with babies

Next up, Joshua Tree, San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and San Bernardino Mountains…

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