Bureau of Land Management National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service

Whitewater River, California

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Managing Agency:

Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Forest Service


Designated Reach:

March 12, 2019. The Middle Fork of the Whitewater River from its source to the confluence with the South Fork. The North Fork of the Whitewater River from its source near Mt. San Gorgonio to the confluence with the Middle Fork. The South Fork of the Whitewater River from the confluence with the East Fork to the confluence with the Middle Fork. The main stem of the Whitewater River from the confluence of the South and Middle Forks to 0.25 miles upstream of the southern boundary of Section 35, T 2 S, R 3 E, San Bernardino Meridian.


Classification/Mileage:

Wild — 23.5 miles; Recreational — 4.6 miles; Total — 28.1 miles.

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Whitewater River

The Whitewater River originates high on 11,499-foot Mount San Gorgonio in the San Gorgonio Wilderness and includes the North, Middle and South Forks. From the headwaters, the designated reach flows through the San Bernardino Mountains for 28 miles to the Coachella Valley area.

The river’s outstandingly remarkable values include its highly diverse, colorful and striking scenery, with regionally unique headwater springs and steep, textured canyon walls. Wildlife is also outstanding as the river corridor provides a critical link between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, supporting a large amount of quality remote, pristine and diverse habitat for Nelson's bighorn sheep, California spotted owl, mule deer, black bear and arroyo toad. The riparian habitat seasonally hosts endangered neo-tropical songbirds, including the least Bell’s vireo and southwest willow flycatcher. The Whitewater River is also an important ceremonial and cultural area for traditional Cahuilla Indians, who visit the river to collect and gather native materials.