By Tricia Witkower
Wildflowers are so beautiful, even the great Tom Petty penned an ode to them. No wonder people come from far and wide to the Coachella Valley to see these stunning pops of color in our otherwise neutrally-toned expanse of sand and mountain. Every March, nonprofit organization Friends of the Desert Mountains celebrates the yearly bloom with their event, Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival. In its 11th year, this family-friendly festival takes place this Saturday, March 3. It starts at 9 am, goes until 4 pm, and is a City of Palm Desert First Weekend Featured Event. The Wildflower Festival has everything you need for a weekend of wholesome fun: guided hikes, adult and youth education, citizen science, trail maintenance and weed removal, and conservation. In addition to those (and, of course, wildflower viewing), there are so many other fun activities for attendees at this free event. Nature lovers can take part in free guided interpretive wildflower hikes, which begin at 9:15 AM and continue every 15 minutes until 2pm. Stations along the trail will feature experts explaining the wildflowers people are seeing.
Prior to the guided hikes, you can walk – or run – in their 5K, which begins at 8:30 am, with registration at 8 am at the Randall Henderson Trail. To sign up for the 5K, go to: https://www.desertmountains.org/calendar/2018/3/3/wildflower-5k-fun-run. For a $25 donation, which goes to help Friends of the Desert Mountains in their conservation efforts and also gets you a nice little t-shirt to walk in! There is also a .6 mile ADA trail for those who need it.
In the Kids’ Zone is a climbing wall, face painting, and other fun activities for the kiddos, including a petting corral with desert critters ( with tortoises, snakes, tarantulas, and more) and a miniature horse named Oreo. For adults, there is a beer and wine garden with live music provided by The Arrangements who are performing songs from the 60s to the 90s from noon- 3:30 PM. An array of delicious food vendors will be on-site and food and beverages will be available for purchase. Local favorite, Cruising Cones, returns this year with refreshing ice cream treats for sale, as well as a biscotti lady, Cone Zone Grill with hotdogs, brats, burgers, veggie burgers, shaved ice, and a coffee trailer to keep you energized. So come hungry – and thirsty!
For a chance to win 2 box seat tickets to the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament, raffle tickets are available 1 for $5, 5 for $10, and 30 for $20. Other raffle prizes include items donated from around the valley, such as artwork, gift certificates, and camping gear. Book lovers can meet writers Phillip Ferrante and Linda Pyle Peaks, authors of 140 Great Hikes and Peaks, Palms, and Picnics, respectively. In addition, there will be fantastic artwork from local artists, logoed items for sale, and many fabulous vendors and exhibitors.
Grab your family and your friends and head to the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert. The Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center is located off Highway 74 in Palm Desert. Admission and parking are free for the festival. Oh, and all this is FREE. Can’t beat that pricetag! To learn more about the Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival visit DesertMountains.org or call (760) 862-9984. For sponsorship opportunities and vendor participation, call (760) 568-9918. Note: the day of the event, shuttles will run from St. Margaret’s Church on Highway 74, as there is no onsite parking for the Wildflower Festival.