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March 8, 2009

Desert Lily Sanctuary

I made my first visit to the Desert Lily Sanctuary today. Google map. It's totally easy to find. Just take I-10 to Desert Center, then route 177 north a few miles. The Desert Lily Sanctuary is on the east side of route 177 and is well marked. Here's the info that was on the plaque at the entrance:

Tasker and Beula Edmiston first observed the desert lily on Easter Sunday 1957. The Edmistons worked tirelessly with the Bureau of Land Management to protect this outstanding natural area. On Easter Sunday 1968, this 2,000 acre site was selected for protection because of its spectacular floral values. Today the Desert Lily Sanctuary is preserved by the California Desert Protection Act.

The Desert Lily prefers dry, sandy flats below 2,000 feet elevation. The plant's bulb may lie dormant underground for many years waiting for ideal conditions to bloom. In the wet spring months when the amount of moisture, sunlight, and temperature are right, the stem sprouts from a bulb buried 18 to 24 inches underground. The mature plant may be several feet tall with a flower cluster at least a foot long. Each blossom is approximately two inches long. This magnificent flower presents a woundrous view.

Desert Lily
Hesperocallis undulata

The sanctuary is packed with lots of different kinds of flowers. The desert lilies seem to prefer uncrowded areas of loose sand where it looks like water has flowed or puddled - not areas that get so much water as to be obvious washes. There are no obvious trails, so to find the lilies I just followed the human footprints, figuring they all knew more than I did. If you want GPS coordinates, most of the lilies I found were around here: N33 47.713 W115 17.645

The sanctuary is surrounded by a good barbed wire fence. Besides the obvious front entrance, I found another one further back here. The northeast corner of the sanctuary is here. I don't know how far south it goes, but the same barbed wire fence continues south along route 177 for a couple of miles at least, and I could see desert lilies there as I drove along.

Here are photos of desert lilies:
Desert Lily (3649)

Desert Lily (3648)

Desert Lily (3638)

Here are some of the other flowers. There were purple ones, white ones and yellow ones, and I'm not going to pretend I remember any of their names. I trust some kind stranger will come along and suggest their proper names.

Desert Lily Sanctuary - Yellow (3669)

Desert Lily Sanctuary - White (3663)

Desert Lily Sanctuary - White (3603)

Desert Lily Sanctuary - Purple (3667)

Desert Lily Sanctuary - Purple (3645)

There were bugs:
Desert Lily Sanctuary - Insect (3675)

Desert Lily Sanctuary - Animal Tracks (3654)
Animal tracks.
Polite naturalists say that the animal drags its tail, creating that line, but I've never actually seen the little animal doing it, so for all I know he may be dragging some other big thing.

The area is thick with old, slowly healing vehicle tracks like these:
Desert Lily Sanctuary - Tracks (3671)
At first I thought that maybe before 1968, people just DROVE around here looking for the desert lilies, but then it occurred to me that these look pretty much the same as the tank tracks left behind by Patton's training forces that I've seen elsewhere in the desert. The Desert Lily Sanctuary is located right in the midst of what was the Desert Training Center. Obviously these flat, wide tracks were not created by the usual sort of wheeled vehicle. I can't guarantee you that tanks made them, but I think it was some tracked vehicle. I would feel more confident about my guess if I had found an obvious campsite, or other remains of war games.

More photos from the Desert Lily Sanctuary.

Filed under California,Photography | permalink | March 8, 2009 at 11:00 PM


It's still open as of late 2020 but the sign has badly faded and there is almost never anyone there except the park service workers from time to time.

Posted by: Brad at Apr 3, 2021 9:40:57 AM

my family rides quads out there and i heard it was closed

Posted by: dilynn at Nov 8, 2009 2:03:51 PM

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