UC Riverside Natural Reserve System
Six reserves spanning 17 square miles are administered by the UC Riverside Natural Reserve System. Perhaps the most pristine desert remaining in the Coachella Valley, the last contiguous stretch of grassland in the Morongo Valley, and Mojave Desert mountains are just a few of the landscapes in the campus reserve network.
Box Springs Reserve
Overlooking UC Riverside, Box Springs Reserve was among the seven original reserves to join the NRS in 1965. Conveniently located near campus, the reserve is a destination for both UC Riverside classes and those seeking to study reptiles, chamise chaparral, and human impacts such as nitrogen deposition on wildlands.
Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center
Linking the peaks of the Santa Rosa Mountains to the floor of the Coachella Valley, the reserve is perhaps the best-preserved expanse of desert habitat remaining in the region. The large elevational transect plus the presence of bighorn sheep, large cacti, California fan palms, and the endangered desert tortoise attract researchers from near and far.
Emerson Oaks Reserve
Oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub, inland grasslands, and a riparian zone can all be found within the steep watershed of Emerson Oaks Reserve near Temecula. The reserve’s protected landscapes are key to the persistence of apex predators such as bobcats and mountain lions in the increasingly crowded Inland Empire.
James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
Located midway up its namesake mountain range, the reserve is located in mixed forest featuring massive ponderosa pines and incense cedars as well as oaks, yucca, and rhododendrons. Its satellite reserve, Oasis de los Osos, surrounds a perennial creek, waterfall, and plunge pool, and protects rare desert riparian habitat in the Coachella Valley
Motte Rimrock Reserve
Protecting Native American pictographs and inland coastal sage scrub that grow amid rocky outcroppings, the reserve bursts into colorful wildflower blooms each spring. The reserve is considered critical habitat for both the endangered Stephens’ kangaroo rat and California gnatcatcher.
Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center
Tucked within the granite fins of its namesake mountain range, the reserve offers spectacular examples of eastern Mojave habitats such as piñon-juniper woodlands, bajadas, and seeps. The site also protects Native American archeological sites and serves as a gateway to tens of thousands of acres of surrounding public lands.