A Cultural Resources Overview of the Colorado Desert Planning Units


The Colorado Desert study area covers approximately 11,000 square miles (28,500 km. sq.) of which over two-thirds is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The land is divided among the Imperial, Santa Rosa, Orocopia, Twentynine Palms, Bristol/Cadiz, Palen, Turtle Mountain, Whipple Mountain, Big Maria and Picacho planning units, which together will be referred to here as the Colorado Desert planning units.

The area is bounded on the north by Interstate 40. Its southern boundary is the United States/Mexican border, and its eastern boundary is the Colorado River and its delta lands. The western boundary is a winding line defined by the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, Joshua Tree National Monument, the San Bernardino National Forest and the path of the Coachella and East Highland canals.

The Colorado Desert planning units are almost entirely in the low, hot desert below 2000 feet (610 m.). It is one of the harshest and most arid environments in North America. The interior of the Colorado Desert planning units is among the most sparsely settled in the United States.

This overview pulls together existing data relating to the cultural resources of the Imperial, Santa Rosa, Orocopia, Twenty-Nine Palms, Bristol/Cadiz, Palen, Turtle Mountain, Whipple Mountain, Big Maria, and Picacho planning units of the Colorado Desert. The goals here are a description and evaluation of these resources that may serve as a basis for cultural resource recommendations and, in turn, for an educated and enlightened management of these resources.

The cultural resources have been presented in terms of the chronological sequences, quality of collections and special studies. These cultural resources are presented against a background of environmental conditions of the Colorado Desert. The primary direction of the study was to outline the cultural resources in terms of man's use of the desert from prehistoric times through the ethnographic present to European occupation of the area. Most of the data relevant to the relationship of man to past environment are still to be recovered through archaeological, ethnohistoric, and historical fieldwork and analysis. Areas of greatest intensity of cultural activities have been identified for some periods. Land use in limited areas for short periods of time has been defined and the major direction in historical developments have been outlined. The paucity of data, however, makes it impossible to identify with certainty the systemic relationships of the all too often isolated fragments that make up the cultural resources of the Colorado Desert.

Originally the information in this record was migrated into tDAR from the National Archaeological Database Reports Module (NADB-R) and updated. In 2014, as part of its effort to improve tDAR content, the Center for Digital Antiquity uploaded a copy of the document and further improved the record metadata.

Cite this Record

A Cultural Resources Overview of the Colorado Desert Planning Units. Elizabeth von Till Warren, Robert H. Crabtree, Claude N. Warren, Martha Knack, Richard McCarthy. Cultural Resources Publications - Archaeology. Riverside, California : Bureau of Land Management, . 1981 ( tDAR id: 183106) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8319WVX

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: -10000 to 1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -116.763; min lat: 32.619 ; max long: -114.131; max lat: 34.913 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Project Director(s): Elizabeth von Till Warren

Sponsor(s): Bureau of Land Management

Submitted To(s): Bureau of Land Management - Riverside, California Office

Record Identifiers

NADB document id number(s): 1040122; 1061069; 1081359; 1043961

NADB citation id number(s): 000000021161; 000000021161; 000000018680; 000000012579


General Note: Originally this record was automatically added to tDAR from NADB. In 2014, a copy of the document was added and the record metadata was updated. There were multiple records (tDAR id: 121595, 127284, 191165) for this document, which has been marked as "duplicate".

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
california_colorado-desert-plan-overview.pdf 10.09mb Oct 27, 2014 10:10:52 AM Public