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Temecula Creek

Previously called Temecula River, the 32.6-mile length is currently titled Temecula Creek. It is located within Riverside County, California. The length of the creek travels through various rural communities that are located down State Route 79 in Temecula Valley. One of these communities includes Aguanga, and Temecula Creek stops just half a mile southeast of Temecula.

When visiting the Temecula Creek, visitors will find various boulders are scattered around. This offers a great environment for anyone wanting a natural place to visit. Usually, the creek is sandy and dry, being rather underdeveloped and a costal drain watershed. However, the Temecula Creek had water all year, up until the 1920s.


In 1785, the creek’s name originated from the Luiseno Indian rancheria known as ‘Temeko’ or ‘Temeca’. Later on, in 1828, Temecula had become the title of rancho of Mission San Luis Rey. The name, as indicated by Alfred Kroeber, could have originated from ‘temet’ a Luiseno word translating to ‘sun’.

The Temecula village was formed on the south Temecula Creek banks on a bluff. Based on a survey in 1853, the location of the village was opposite of the old Wolf’s Store.

During 1948, the Vail Ranch owners constructed a dam measuring 132 feet high along the Temecula Creek. It is named Vail Lake Dam, and sits roughly 10 miles higher than the confluence of Santa Margarita River. The Temecula Creek and Vail Lake Dam have become a popular area for recreational use.


Originating on northern slopes of the Aguanga Mountain, Temecula Creek travels 1-mile northeast, past Dodge Valley, continuing northwest on to other areas, including Dameron Valley, Oak Grove Valley, Radec Valley, Aguanga Valley, Butterfield Valley, and finally reaching the Vail Lake Reservior.

Once the creek reaches the reservoir, it flows southwest to other areas, including Pauba Valley and ending at Temecula Valley where it meets Murrieta Creek. Compared to Murrieta Creek, the drainage area of Temecula Creek is just a little larger.

The beginning of the Santa Margarita River is located at the top of Temecula Canyon, at the confluence of the two creeks. The Temecula Creek has homes located along both sides, which means parts of it may be channelized.

The Ecology

Temecula Creek is biologically diverse, as it supports the desert and coastal flora and fauna. The creek is bounded by both the Cleveland National Forest, and Agua Tibia Wilderness.

Various ecosystems depend on the creek for support, including costal sage scrub, alluvial fan scrub, Jojoba, coast live oak woodland, mesquite Bosque mix, along with matured Fremont cottonwood-willows.

Many species of birds are supported as well, including Nuttalls quail, Bells vireo, California quail, ladder-backed woodpecker, and Gambel’s quail.

Other animals which can be found along Temecula creek include the Arroyo southwestern toad, and North American beaver.