Opening Day

The Winter gate opens at 7 am

The visitor center opens at 8 am

The Visitor Center, the Palm House, is a palm-log cabin built by Paul Wilhelm in the 1930s.

A brief history…

In 1877 the Desert Land Act  passes which opens up the desert for homesteading. In 1902 Albert Thornburg homesteads 80 acres of the Thousand Palms Oasis. Three years later Louis Wilhelm trades 2 mules and a wagon for the 80 acres. He, his wife and 12 children camp here for the next 2 decades. In the early 1930s Paul Wilhelm, the youngest child of Louis, rents the land from his father, builds a small cabin from palm tree logs, and lives in the Oasis. He adds a second “room”, with its own door, when his niece Dolly comes to stay. A self-made naturalist and entrepreneur, Paul builds shacks and tent sites to rent to overnight visitors. This leads to yet another addition to his cabin as Dolly provides meals for guests at Dolly’s Last Chance Cafe. (

Both composting toilets are open

The gate closes and locks at 5Pm

Unfortunately, many visitors cannot read.

As hosts we stand in the parking lot or outside the Palm House at 4:00 reminding new guests when we lock the gate. If a car still remains at 6:00 we start worrying that the visitors may be lost and in need of water and shade. By 7:00 we need to call Ginny, the Preserve Manager, aka, our boss.


Sometimes visitors will park outside of the locked gate and walk around the closure after 5:30 because they just want to walk through and take a picture.

Even better, some visitors will ignore the posted signs prohibiting dogs thinking it’s okay to bring their dog through after hours.

Ya gotta love people… bless their hearts!

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