James Reserve

The James Reserve is located in a remote wilderness setting (12 ha, 29 acres) surrounded entirely by the San Bernardino National Forest. The nearest services are 7 miles away. There are no public utilities except for telephone. The reserve produces its own electricity via solar photovoltaic cells and generators. There is also a well on site with 10,000 gallons of water storage. Power, heating, and water are very limited and require constant conservation by users.

Trailfinders Lodge

Trailfinders Lodge in winter

The Trailfinders Lodge lab-dormitory complex accommodates thirty people in two comfortable bedrooms and two dorm-style rooms; a main room for dining and meetings; a fully equipped kitchen with a four burner stove and two refrigerators; a washbasin and two bathrooms with hot showers; a wood stove and additional gas heating.


Three additional cabins can house forty additional people. There is one large cabin with 20 beds and 2 smaller cabins, each with 10 beds. Each cabin has a fully-equipped kitchen and bathrooms with showers.

An additional small cabin, the Blair House, is used to host special guests to the Reserve . Pictures of the Blair house can be seen here.

In addition, a tent camping area can accommodate 4-5 tents.

Reserve amenities

Shared reserve amenities include wi-fi, several weather stations, a classroom equipped with vertebrate study skins, herbarium, insect collection, and microscopes, a library, and a trail system. The reserve does not have a caterer or janitor. Visitors are expected to provide their own food and clean the facilities before departing. 

Resident staff live on-site, and are available for assistance. Staff offices are located in the Trailfinders Lodge. Roads are plowed in the winter, but we highly recommend calling ahead for road conditions. The California Highway Patrol requires drivers to carry snow chains during winter months.

What to bring

  • Sleeping bag, pillow and towel, etc.
  • Your own toiletries
  • Food (the reserve is fully stocked with pots, pans, plates, and utensils)
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • A tent and sleeping pad if camping


Fees are charged for overnight accommodations at Trailfinders Lodge, three smaller modular cabins, the campgrounds, and the stand-alone classroom. Fees include use of semi-private dormitory rooms, communal bathrooms with showers, kitchen with cooking supplies, desks, a small museum with herbarium and animal collections (skins), wireless Internet access within all our buildings and many outdoor areas, and access to Reserve databases. The fees schedule for use of the facilities can be found here

Oasis de los Osos

Oasis de los Osos, a 65-ha (160-acre) satellite reserve, is located north of Palm Springs in Riverside County. It is situated at the base of the impressively steep north face of the San Jacinto Mountains. Habitats consist of a mixture of desert scrub, riparian, and inland sage scrub species. A perennial stream, Lambs Creek, flows diagonally across the site, creating small waterfalls. The property includes the canyon carved by Lambs Creek as well as the surrounding landslide and alluvial fan deposits. No facilities are available, but primitive camping is allowed with an approved application. 

Additional sites

Several additional desert and montane sites available to reserve users are located within 50 miles and a 45–60 minute drive.

Cahuilla Mountain, a 300-ha (740-acre) mountaintop, is a US Forest Service Research Natural Area with black oak and Coulter pine (90% burned in July of 1996).

The San Jacinto Wilderness (40,000 acres, managed by the US Forest Service) and Mount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness (10,000 acres, managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation) can be reached via trails and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.