Morongo Valley lies along the western edge of the Mojave Desert and near the northern edge of the Coachella Valley. It is a nature-lover’s paradise with wonderful, starlit nights and a friendly, small-town environment. A popular destination in Morongo Valley is the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. The preserve is nestled among the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The desert oasis at Big Morongo Canyon is one of the 10 largest cottonwood and willow riparian (stream) habitats in California. The upstream end of the canyon lies in the Mojave Desert, while its downstream portion opens into the Colorado Desert. The Morongo fault running through the canyon causes water draining from the surrounding mountains to form Big Morongo Creek and the marsh habitat.
Built in 1946 as a movie set for westerns, Pioneertown, in the scenic Sawtooth Mountains above Yucca Valley, provided a place for actors to live while they worked. Pioneertown hosted the movies of Gene Autry, “The Cisco Kid” with Duncan Renaldo, “Annie Oakley” starring Gail Davis, “Judge Roy Bean” with Edgar Buchanan, “Range Rider” with Jock O. Mahoney, and “Buffalo Bill Jr.” with Dick Jones. Shoot-outs still occur on Mane Street, every year from October to May, as Pioneertown’s Old West actors don their costumes, mount their horses, fill their guns with blanks and create reenactment skits on weekend afternoons for all ages.
Wonder Valley, the unincorporated rural enclave east of 29 Palms, is a burgeoning oasis of artists, musicians, and those seeing refuge from hectic urban life. Visitors to Wonder Valley can explore the fun and funky at galleries or they can opt to explore nature in the wild beauty that is the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area, a 40,000-acre preserve accessible from Amboy Road.