By Crystal Harrell

Spring is upon us, and with the amount of winter rain the Coachella Valley has received in the last few weeks, the desert is looking a lot more green and floral. Wildflower season is finally here, and Friends of the Desert Mountains’ 18th annual Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival will take place, Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park. This day-long free community event is a colorful mix of shopping, dining, dancing—plus an entire Kids Zone of crafts, activities and art.

“There’s a lot that we’re looking forward to this year at the festival. We’re going to have great weather and we’re going to be able to really promote the wildflowers this year because of the rain that we’ve had over the fall and winter. We also have some new activities in the Kids Zone that I think everyone’s going to be impressed with. We have our raffles that a lot of groups here in the Valley support by donating items, along with a gift shop, vendors, and exhibitors that will be selling their artwork. It really is a community event appealing to kids and artists,” said Tammy Martin, the Executive Director for Friends on the Desert Mountains.

In partnership with the City of Palm Desert, the public is invited this year to help create a one-day-only 40’-long mountain sculpture covered in a “Human Superbloom” of paper flowers that can be made at the festival. The public is also able to bring print-outs of their own to highlight the desert blooms for an amazing photo op.


Attendees can also expect live music, lively crowds, local-made products from Valley residents, and a delicious array of food and beverages including “America’s #1 Sandwich Shop” TKB from Indio. The wildly popular Inspired By Nature: Youth Art Contest also returns with 1,000 participants.

“The festival has really expanded over the years. We used to have the festival up at our offices, near the visitor center off of Hwy. 74, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. We used to bus people up there and we’d get maybe 1,500 people at the most. We outgrew that space, so we moved the festival. It was very small in the beginning,” shared Martin.

In addition to the festival, a Wildflower 5K took place one week before the festival on the Randall Henderson Trail at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. The $35 registration fee supports wildflower habitats and gets participants a special sporty 5K t-shirt.

Friends of the Desert Mountains connects people to the land through conservation, education, and research. Friends also acts as the non-profit support organization to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. From the San Gorgonio Pass to the Salton Sea, Friends of the Desert Mountains has protected over 60,000 acres. It currently manages and monitors over 17,000 acres of conservation land. Taken together, these wildlands have preserved a unique wildlife movement corridor between two mountain ranges at the west end of of the Coachella Valley. This vital connection gives wildlife the ability to move and respond to climate change and other human impacts, and protects the scenic gateway to the Coachella Valley and the extraordinary views of the San Jacinto escarpment. And while wildflower season is a time to admire and appreciate the natural beauty found in the desert foliage, Friends of the Desert Mountains still advises people to take caution when looking for flowers.

“I think that people need to be aware of the wildlife, the natural beauty—and where you can go, and where you shouldn’t go. There’s going to be lots of wildflowers out there, but be aware where you’re at, what properties you’re on. Make sure that you’re on public lands and not somebody’s private property. And we ask that people just don’t go walking out into the wildflowers. We want to make sure that they’re not getting all trampled down. We’re a land conservation organization, so we want to protect the environment and preserve it,” stated Martin.

For more Wildflower Festival event information and to download a free Coachella Valley Wildflower Field Guide, visit