The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, located at the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains in southwest Riverside County near the city of Murrieta, is a hidden gem that offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and ecosystems of the area. Consisting of 9000 acres, the Reserve protects unique ecosystems such as Engelmann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, and vernal pools as well as more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species, including mule deer, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats, western pond turtles, white-tailed kites and fairy shrimp. Of the two species of fairy shrimp that live in the seasonal vernal pools on the Reserve, one is found only here and nowhere else on Earth!
An especially popular day-hike destination at the Reserve is the Moreno and Machado Adobes, the two oldest standing structures in Riverside County, which date back to 1846 and once served as bunkhouses for cowboys. These interesting historical buildings, shaded by a 400-year-old tree and separated by a relaxing one-of-a-kind picnic area, provide a unique opportunity to experience Riverside County’s rich history.
The Reserve offers a number of interpretive programs and trail walks. Horseback riding and mountain biking are popular activities in the Sylvan Meadows Multi-Use Area of the Plateau.
Visitors may pick up a brochure at the Riverside County Park District Headquarters, or simply drop by the Reserve to check it out.
- Seasonal Vernal Pools
- Walking Trails
- Hiking Trails
- Biking Trails
- Equestrian Trails
- Picnic Areas
- Historic Adobe Buildings
- Interpretive Programs
- Outreach programs to 3rd grade classes
- Interpretive Trail Walks
- Guest Speakers
- Family Wildlife Day
- $4 each adult pedestrian
- $3 each child between 2 and 12
Additional fees may apply when in groups or special events.
Programs at the Santa Rosa Plateau are enhanced through funding raised by the Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation.
For more information about the Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation visit: Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation
If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our Volunteers Page for more information on how you can help, thank you!