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Morongo Valley

Morongo Valley’s springs and wetlands, its mild hi-desert climate, and its location among the Little San Bernardino Mountains, has made it a hospitable location likely to have been seasonally inhabited for thousands of years.
 

Serrano and Chemehuevi Indians came here for hundreds of years to gather food from desert plants and to hunt.  Mexican miners came her at some point, and settlers began to arrive during the mid-1800s to farm, ranch, or mine the desert.

 

Supply wagons rolled through Morongo on their way to the Dale Mining District east of Twentynine Palms, and cattle drives came down from Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains to winter their herds out of the snow.


The 1909 hunt for Willie Boy, the last great posse manhunt of the West, came through Morongo Valley.  The story was made into a movie, Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here, starring Robert Redford as the sheriff and Robert Blake as Willie Boy.  Many questions remain about what really happened to Willie Boy, and who may have killed whom.  Nah, the posse never did get Willie Boy.  Honest.  And President Taft was never in danger.


Al Capone spent some time here and by the 1940s, electricity arrived to Morongo Valley.  By the 1960s, Route 62 was widened to four lanes.   Morongo Valley began to welcome more and more visitors to the hi-desert.  In 2016, Morongo became surrounded—by the new Sand to Snow National Monument!


Things to Do

Sand to Snow National Monument

The Sand to Snow National Monument is 154,000 acres of some of the most biodiverse land in southern California, supporting more than 240 species of birds, along with 12 threatened and endangered wildlife species.  From the Colorado Desert (the Sonoran or low desert), to the hi-desert (Mojave Desert), and into the San Bernardino Mountains​, to the highest peak, the monument protects sacred, archaeological, and cultural sites, including approximately 1,700 Native American petroglyphs.  It includes the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and plenty of opportunities for hiking, hunting, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, photography, and at certain times of the year, skiing.

Sand to Snow National Monument (U.S. Forest Service)

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Now part of the Sand to Snow National Monument, the Preserve is a fantastic wild place for birders, wildlife lovers, hikers, families, and wildflower enthusiasts.  It’s a great place for a picnic, or a boardwalk stroll with the kids.


Covington Park
Near the Preserve is Covington Park, with its large shady cottonwood trees, picnic tables, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, a playground area, and “the Slab,” a skateboard, razor, and BMX park.  The park’s community building is host to the Children’s Library and the Art Colony of Morongo Valley.  The multi-purpose room, kitchen, and pavilion are available for rentals for gatherings or weddings.

Fellow Earthlings Wildlife Center
A rare meerkat preserve (only open through membership), Fellow Earthlings has worked with Animal Planet on the television show Meerkat Manor, films like Meerkat Madness and The Power of Play.  The center’s director worked as a consultant for Disney Studios’ The Lion King.  Members can arrange to spend time with the meerkats. www.fellowearthlings.org

Trail Rides on Horseback
Several Morongo stables offer a variety of trail rides.

Local History & Mystery
It is said Indians avoided upper Big Morongo Canyon, and some residents to this day report a “dynamo hum,” emanating periodically from the canyon.  A stone arrastre was found in Morongo Valley that was proof of early Mexican mining operations in the area.  


The canyon is also home to Angel Canyon Circle, the first of seven sacred circles created around the world by The Foundation of Heaven, a group led to the site by visions and channeled messages.  Find this mysterious healing stone circle and experience your own desert vision.  You’ll have to channel your own directions to the circle though.  

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