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Ancient Ocean

A wide variety of plants and animals have adapted to the arid desert environment. Not long ago, geologically speaking, much of southern California's desert was under water. Fossil records tell the story...

Bighorn sheep

Elephant tree

Barrel cactus

"Badlands" bear the marks of centuries of weathering, slowed by the scarcity of water.

These concretions formed in layers around organic particles. The process is similar to the manner in which hailstones are formed, only the medium is stone rather than ice and takes much more time. Slow weathering of the surrounding mudstone has exposed these "pumpkins".


Rare rains percolate through mudstone and create subterranean streams which in turn hollow out serpentine caves.

Seventeen Palms natural oasis was a rest stop for weary prospectors and other desert travelers.