My Sycamore Canyon

Snake Safety

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is home to many critters, one of which is the Red diamond rattlesnake.  Some visitors become scared, upset, uncertain, or sometimes leave the park when they hear this news.  The Ameal Moore Nature Center recognizes your concerns for safety and would like to provide a few words on snakes in the park.

Snakes are found in many parts of the world and most snakes are not poisonous. The ones that are use their venom for hunting more than protection and are not interested in constant attempts to harm humans.  Rattlesnakes are unique to the Americas, and the ‘rattles’ on their tails may sometimes signal their presence when you are too near.  Red diamond rattlesnakes are poisonous, but with these answers to frequently asked questions and safety tips, you can stay safe.

FAQ by visitors to the nature center:

  • Q: I’m afraid of snakes. Will they chase me?
    A: No, the snakes will not chase you.  They want to be left alone as much as you want them to leave you alone.
  • Q: Will I die if I’m bitten? 
    A: There is a good chance that an adult Red diamond rattlesnake will give you a ‘dry’ bite- meaning there is no venom in it.  Their goal is not to kill you (as you are far too big for them to eat) but to make you leave them alone and or to save their own lives.  However, venom or no, it is important to remember that a snake will bite if it feels threatened.  It is therefore very important to not agitate any snake you see and to avoid disturbing all wildlife.
  • Q: How do I not agitate snakes?
    A: Leave them alone. Do not approach them, touch them, or attempt to pick them up. Please do not grab them by the tails to try to get a picture of them or to prevent them from leaving. Whether the snake is poisonous or not, it is best to leave them be.
  • Q: How do I avoid snakes completely?
    A: Because the park’s wildlife roams freely, there is always the possibility you will encounter a snake. However, to limit this possibility, visitors should stick to wide, established trails. Especially early and late in the day.  Visitors should not stick their hands in holes or crevasses in rocks and should also avoid walking in bushy areas or areas of tall grass.
  • Q: What if I do come across a rattlesnake?
    A: Take two large steps back.  The safest place to be when there is a rattlesnake nearby is outside of its strike range.  Once you are a safe distance away, choose a different route to continue your hike.
  • Q: What if I find a snakeskin or a dead snake? Is it all right for me to pick that up?
    A: No, please do not pick up and attempt to take anything out of the park or bring it into the nature center.  All inhabitants of the park are protected and we ask that what you find in the park (other than garbage which we appreciate you throwing away or reporting) stays in the park. That includes their parts as well (feathers, furs, skins, etc.).

Safety tips to remember:

  • AVOID: If you see a snake, avoid it.  Give any snakes on trails the right of way.  If you cannot go around it (we urge visitors to stay on the paths for safety and to preserve the park by minimizing the human footprint- however, if you need to avoid a snake, please do so), turn around and walk away.  Do not attempt to pick a snake up or grab it by the tail! Please remember, these are not pets. If you see a snake off the path that is not rattling at you do not approach it! This does not mean that the snake is dead. Snakes sleep with their eyes ‘open’ and the snake may simply be sleeping. It is also important that you keep your pets on a leash to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
  • LISTEN: You may not always immediately see a rattlesnake- sometimes you will hear it first.  The center urges visitors to listen and pay attention to their surrounds.  It is a good idea to not listen to music loudly when in the park so that you will be able to hear any warning rattles.  But remember, not all rattlesnakes will rattle at you, and not all snakes have rattles, so keep your eyes open for them.
  • WATCH: Watch where you walk and where you put your hands.  Do not stick your hands in any crevasses between rocks or down any holes.
  • TEACH: Teach others in your visiting party to be aware of the snakes.  If you have children with you, make sure you keep them close to you and teach them snake safety.  Some visitors think that because they handle their domesticated pet snakes at home that they can also handle the wild ones in the park. Again, these are not pets and it is important to teach those with you that fact.
  • TOGETHER: In case of accident it is always a good idea to hike the trails with a friend.  The nature center is currently closed on weekdays.  If an emergency arises, dial 911.

The Red diamond rattlesnakes in the park are a part of the ecosystem. Please do not harm any of the snakes in the park. The park exists to protect the animals within it. By following these tips and guidelines you can help us ensure that the park stays open and that you stay safe.

However, accidents can occur. If any snake bites you, please seek medical attention immediately. Even the bite of a nonvenomous snake can cause damage (through infection or tissue damage). Here are some steps to take for initial first aid if someone is bitten by a snake from ‘Pest Notes’ by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources publication 74119:

If you are less than 1 hour from a treatment facility:

  • Call for help
  • Keep the victim calm
  • Wash the bitten area with soap and water gently
  • Put a cold and wet cloth over the bite
  • Get them to a treatment facility

There are many misconceptions about rattlesnake bite treatments. Here are some things that should NOT be done:

  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • Do not put ice on the bite
  • Do not cut at the bite with sharp objects
  • Do not try to suck out venom with your mouth
  • Do not apply electric shock

Remember during any visit to wear proper attire when going through the park and to bring plenty of water and sun protection with you. By being prepared, you can stay safe and enjoy the park’s beauty.

California Native Plants: When in drought, native it out!

In Southern California it is important to remember that water conservation is key.  As droughts rage on, cities pass stricter ordinances on water usage.  Instead of allowing your lawns to go brown, or continuing to water grass despite the water restrictions, the Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park has another suggestion: native plants!

Many people ask what they can do to their lawns with the water restrictions. There are of course, various answers to this dry dilemma. You could:

  • Use lava rocks in the yard in place of grass
  • Replace your living grass with artificial grass
  • Leave your lawn as a dirt lot

Or, if those options are not to your liking, you could consider filling your lawn with native plants.   Native plants are perfect for homeowners concerned with water conservation. As they are a part of the surrounding ecosystem, they are perfectly suited for the dry climate that Southern California is famous for.   They do not require more than the usual amount of rainfall, have their own defenses against pests, require less maintenance compared to non-natives, and they can look great and come in a variety of colors!

There are many reasons to consider the switch from non-natives to natives:

  • Native plants are low maintenance
  • Native plants require less chemicals or pesticides (they have natural defenses against local threats)
  • You will have lower water bills
  • You will be conserving water
  • You will not have to be concerned about brown lawns during restricted water use months

If you are unsure of what natives to plant, check with your local nursery for information and suggestions. There are also nurseries that only carry native plant species. You can check online to see if they are in your neighborhood. Nurseries should be able to tell you what specific plants are best for your area.

For additional information, you can check out some of these sources:

Sources:  United States.  Riverside-Corona Conservation District. Wild About Natives. n.d. Print.


Please take our survey

The nature center is currently designing educational programming that will be free to the public in the Fall.  In order to help us create better programming, please take a moment to answer our three point survey (available in English and Spanish) located on our home page.  By taking a moment to answer the survey, you’ll help us ensure that we provide better, more engaging programs for visitors of all ages.

The Ameal Moore Nature Center: putting the pieces together

The nature center officially opened to the public June 14, 2014.  The nature center project was envisioned to combine environmental preservation, the demonstration of activities, and educational programs that would serve diverse visitor groups in order to reconnect visitors to the land and natural resources in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park.  Currently, the newly opened center is approximately 1,000 square feet and houses an exhibition space and restrooms.

The process of assembling the center occurred in December 2013.  The building itself is a manufactured building that came in two pieces.  Once the pieces arrived by highway it was a matter of placing them on the foundation and connecting the pieces.  To walk into the center today you would never think that the building had at one time been split down the middle.  17 skylights of various shapes and sizes provide the building with adequate light during the summer daylight hours helping the building to be eco-friendly.

Visitors are encouraged to come into the center to see the finished product and to speak with staff.  Hands on learning and children’s crafts are available for all ages to enjoy.  The center will begin running educational programs regularly in the Fall of 2014.

What’s in the park?

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park is a large 1,500 acre public open space park that is one of eight protected, core reserves.  Designated by the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA) for the Federally-listed endangered species Dipodomys stephensi, the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (SKR), the park serves as both a habitat and a recreational hub.

Visitors are welcome to explore, hike, bike, jog, bird watch, and generally enjoy the wonders of nature.  Generally, when visitors come into the nature center they are curious to know what animals they may run into while at the park.  The park is home to mammals, reptiles, insects, arachnids, birds, and plants- nearly 100 of which are classified as rare, sensitive, threatened, or endangered.

Observable park fauna can include:

  • Mammals: Agile kangaroo rat, Beechey’s ground squirrel, Cactus mouse, Common gray fox, Coyote, Deer mouse, Desert cottontail, Striped skunk, Valley pocket gopher, Virginia opossum
  • Reptiles: California legless lizard, Granite spiny lizard, Night snake, Red diamond rattlesnake, Side-blotched lizard, Southern alligator lizard
  • Insects: Anise swallowtail, Bordered plant bug, Cabbage white butterfly, Cloudless sulfur, Fiery skipper, Leafhopper assassin bug, Monarch butterfly, Red-shouldered stink bug, Sara or Pacific orangetip, Say stink bug, Vivid dancer, Western pygmy-blue, Western tiger swallowtail
  • Birds: American crow, American kestrel, American robin, Anna’s hummingbird, Bewick’s wren, Black phoebe, California quail, California thrasher, California towhee, Canyon wren, Cassin’s kingbird, Common raven, Common yellowthroat, Downy woodpecker, Ferruginous hawk, Hooded oriole, house finch, Killdeer, Lawrence’s goldfinch, Lesser goldfinch, Loggerhead shrike, Mourning dove, Northern flicker, Nuttall’s woodpecker, Orange-crowned warbler, Phainopepla, Rock wren, Say’s phoebe, Song sparrow, Swainson’s hawk, Turkey vulture, Violet-green swallow, Western bluebird, Western kingbird, White-crowned sparrow, White-throated swift, Willow flycatcher, Yellow-rumped warbler


Some visitors become alarmed or nervous when hearing about the various reptiles they may encounter in the park.  However, like most wildlife, if left alone the reptiles will leave you alone as well.  Here are some other helpful tips and rules for the park to make your visit fun, safe, and enjoyable.

  • Pay attention!  Rattlesnakes may or may not alert you to their presence.  If you hear a rattle snake, stop and walk away.  If you see a rattlesnake, avoid it.  By paying attention and leaving the snake alone, you can avoid any unwanted situations.
  • Keep children close by.  Keeping children close to you and teaching them to listen for the various wildlife will keep the fun going and will ensure safety.
  • Respect the wildlife.  The park is not just a great recreational spot for people.  It’s also the home of many species.  Please respect the wildlife and be aware that this is their home.
  • Share the paths.  Being courteous of other visitors is a great way to ensure that your visit as well as theirs is fun and safe.  We also ask that you be courteous of the various species that also use the paths.
  • Keep dogs on a leash and pick up after them.


Grand opening!

The Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park (presented by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and its partners) is officially open to the public! Family members of the late three-time Council member, Mr. Ameal Moore, were in attendance as were City of Riverside civil servants, and members of the Riverside community. After official opening ceremonies, visitors were encouraged to view the newly built and furbished center.

Inside the center visitors could handle objects on display for hands-on learning, view demonstrations of the City of Riverside’s free ‘Riverside Nature Spotter’ app (available in Apple iOS AppStore & Google store for Android), and meet the staff of the center. Directly outside the center door visitors were encouraged to plant their own wildflower seeds and take them home. More free educational and family friendly programs will be available through the center during regular opening hours which are currently set for summer on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 5pm.

Nature Center Construction Zone!

The final touches are being put on the Ameal Moore Nature Center at Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park presented by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and its partners. Today, large informational wall panels are being hung in preparation for the grand opening on Saturday June 14, 2014.

Riverside Citizen Science

Riverside Citizen ScienceOur Mission:
The mission of Riverside Citizen Science is to engage our community in observing and documenting Riverside’s natural environment. The program will foster appreciation and stewardship through nature-centered activities. Science, through community participation and collaboration, becomes a permanent part of our city’s culture, and identity.

In 2010, the City of Riverside was awarded a National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program community assistance grant to help plan and design the City-wide citizen science program, contributing professional facilitation and leadership to the strategic planning process for this collaboration. In February of 2011, a working group was formed of representatives from each agency, working in monthly meetings to create a vision statement, plus strategic and action plans. During this formative time, the City of Riverside was awarded two California State Parks grants: a 2011 Nature Education Facilities Program grant for construction of a nature center at Riverside’s Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, and a 2012 Habitat Conservation Fund grant supporting education programming at the new facility. As Sycamore Canyon park will be the primary location for Riverside’s initial citizen science efforts, it has become an important point of reference for the framing of this plan’s goals and objectives. Fulfillment of this strategic plan will result in citizen science activities taking place throughout the greater Riverside area.

Our Vision:
We envision the Riverside Citizen Science program as being the primary means of communicating to the public the significance of the natural resources found in all the City’s parks and natural areas, resulting in ongoing, community-based stewardship of and improved natural resource management practices by the community, at home and elsewhere. Data collected by this community-based program will be used to support City-wide discussion of the present challenges facing local ecosystems, and to document the effectiveness of open space protection and habitat restoration projects supporting native species.

Riverside Citizen Science Partners:
City of Riverside Metropolitan Museum
City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services
University of California, Riverside
Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District
National Park Service: Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance
The US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Riverside

If you’re interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist and helping with Citizen Science projects, visit Riverside Citizen Science online or visit us at the nature center every 3rd Saturday of the month all day for information and instruction on a spotlighted project (projects differ each month) during our C.S.I. days!


Welcome to our events page!  Here you’ll find descriptions of our events listed on our calendar under the ‘About’ tab.  Here you’ll also be able to register for any events that will require a sign up.


The Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 9:00 am. Join the City of Riverside for a special dedication ceremony for the Ameal Moore Nature Center in honor of late three-term Riverside City Councilmember Ameal Moore.

Nature Spotter

Download the Nature Spotter App in Apple or Google Store!

Download the Nature Spotter App in for Apple or Google!

The Riverside Nature Spotter app is a handy tool that helps nature lovers share their observations –whether it be an insect, plant, animal, or other living thing. Spotters can send a photo with questions about what they’ve seen and a Naturalist will reply with feedback. Observations will be collected and used to create an online database to share with fellow Nature Spotters. So get outdoors, take or choose a photo, and send with your comments or questions!

A volunteer uses the Nature Spotter App to photograph a Black Widow spiderWhere do my photos go? Photos sent using the app or by email will be sent to a naturalist from the Riverside Citizen Science project, who will identify the insect, plant, animal, or other natural subject you send. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about it and provide any helpful information you feel may be of use. The photos will then be placed into our Riverside Citizen Science online database on the inaturalist website so that this information can be shared and viewed by other nature spotters. If you would not like to have your photos shared, but would still like to get feedback from our naturalist, then please include that in your message when you send it.

There are 2 ways to become a nature spotter!

1. Download the Free App
Iphone/Apple Users:  Apple iOS AppStore
Android Users: Google Store

2.Send photos to

This is a project of the Riverside Citizen Science program. This application was developed by the City of Riverside, CA Information Technology department working with Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department, and their Riverside Citizen Science partners.