Temecula Creek

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Temecula Creek
Temecula River, Aguanga Creek[1]
CountryUnited States
RegionSan Diego County, Riverside County
Physical characteristics
 - locationAguanga Mountain in the Cleveland National Forest, San Diego County
 - coordinates33°19′52″N 116°45′27″W / 33.33111°N 116.75750°W / 33.33111; -116.75750[1]
 - elevation4,200 ft (1,300 m)
MouthConfluence with Murrieta Creek, forming Santa Margarita River
 - location
0.5 miles southeast of Temecula, Riverside County
 - coordinates
33°28′27″N 117°08′27″W / 33.47417°N 117.14083°W / 33.47417; -117.14083Coordinates: 33°28′27″N 117°08′27″W / 33.47417°N 117.14083°W / 33.47417; -117.14083[1]
 - elevation
951 ft (290 m)[1]
Basin features
 - leftKohler Canyon, Rattlesnake Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Long Canyon, Kolb Creek, Pechanga Creek
 - rightChihuahua Creek, Tule Creek, Wilson Creek

Temecula Creek, formerly known as the Temecula River,[2] runs 32.6 miles (52.5 km)[3] through southern Riverside County, California, United States, past the rural communities of the Temecula Valley along the State Route 79 corridor, such as Radec and Aguanga, and ending 0.5 miles (0.80 km) southeast of the city center of Temecula. The creek is filled with boulders and is typically dry and sandy. It is a relatively undeveloped coastal-draining watershed.[4] Until the 1920s, water flowed in Temecula Creek year-round.[5]


A Luiseño Indian rancheria named Temeca or Temeko was named as early as 1785. In 1828 Temecula became the name of a rancho of Mission San Luis Rey. Alfred Kroeber noted that the name may be derived from the Luiseño word temet meaning "sun".[6] The village of Temecula originated on a bluff on the south bank of Temecula Creek opposite the old Wolf's Store according to an 1853 survey.[7] H

In 1948, the owners of the Vail Ranch built a 132-foot-high (40 m) dam on Temecula Creek, the Vail Lake Dam, approximate ly 10 miles (16 km) above the confluence with the Santa Margarita River. Today the lake is a public recreational use area.


Temecula Creek originates on the north slope of Aguanga Mountain, flows northeast 1 mile (1.6 km) to Dodge Valley, where it continues northwest through Dodge Valley, Oak Grove Valley, Dameron Valley, Aguanga Valley, Radec Valley, Butterfield Valley, into Vail Lake Reservoir, after which it flows southwest through Pauba Valley to Temecula Valley where it joins Murrieta Creek.[1] Temecula Creek has a slightly larger drainage area than Murrieta Creek. The Santa Margarita River begins at the confluence of the two creeks at the head of Temecula Canyon.[8]

With the encroachment of homes on both sides of Temecula Creek, portions may be channelized.[citation needed]

Tributaries of Temecula Creek[edit]


Biologically diverse, supporting both coastal and desert fauna and flora, it is bounded by the Agua Tibia Wilderness area and the Cleveland National Forest. The creek supports coastal sage scrub, including Jojoba, alluvial fan scrub, mesquite bosque mix, coast live oak woodland, and mature Fremont cottonwood-willow woodland.[9]

In addition to riparian breeders, birds include least Bell's vireo, Nuttall's quail, ladder-backed woodpecker, and California and Gambel's quail. Arroyo southwestern toad are also found in Temecula Creek.[9]

North American beaver (Castor canadensis) may gradually raise the water table and return portions of the stream to perennial flow at sitei such as its confluence with Murrieta Creek.[10] However, cattle grazing along Temecula Creek have injured its understory.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Temecula Creek
  2. ^ Gerald A. Waring, UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Water-Supply Paper 429, Ground Water In The San Jacinto And Temecula Basins, California, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1919
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 16, 2011
  4. ^ "Projects & Plans - Land Management Plan". USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  5. ^ Leland E. Bibb (Fall 1991). "Pablo Apis and Temecula". The Journal of San Diego History. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright (2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 389. Retrieved 2011-12-05.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Leland E. Bibb (Summer 1972). "The Location of the Indian Village of Temecula". The Journal of San Diego History. sandiegohistory.org. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  8. ^ "Santa Margarita, CA, Murrieta Creek to Sandia Creek Rd. (Temecula Gorge)". americanwhitewater.org. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  9. ^ a b c "Site Profile". Audubon Society. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  10. ^ Dick Newell (2010). "Analyzing Beaver Track and Sign". Retrieved 2011-12-05.