From Playas to Pines: The Diverse Landscapes and Habitats of the Eastern Mojave

Course Number: BIOL X425.29


1.5 units

The eastern Mojave Desert is characterized by great topographic relief, complex geology, and diverse habitats, yielding a species richness not found in much of the western Mojave. Explore this diversity, from the low-lying remains of Ice age lakes (playas), to Piñon Pine forests on the slopes of the higher ranges. Highlights include:

  • the towering Kelso sand dunes
  • expansive Cima Volcanic Field with its cinder cones
  • lava flows (and even a subterranean lava tube)
  • the largest and densest Joshua Tree forest in the world on Cima Dome
  • the eerily eroded volcanic deposits at Hole-in-the-Wall

Weather permitting, you will live-trap Kangaroo rats and hunt for scorpions using ultraviolet lights on Saturday evening. You will learn about the plant and animal adaptations to this arid region, major geological events, and the interesting role blowing dust plays in forming some landscape features. Cultural sites, including petroglyphs left by early Native Americans, and a historic mining camp with the tallest head-frame still standing in the area are also explored.


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