Deep Creek Hot Springs


Deep Creek Hot Springs, located near Apple Valley in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, is a popular natural attraction within the San Bernardino National Forest. These hot springs are renowned for their scenic beauty and the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters. The area around Deep Creek Hot Springs offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, swimming, and wildlife viewing.

Access to Deep Creek Hot Springs is primarily through hiking trails, the most common being the Bradford Ridge Path from the high desert side and the Pacific Crest Trail from the Lake Arrowhead side. The hike to the hot springs is known for its rugged terrain, offering a moderate to challenging trek depending on the path chosen and the hiker’s experience level.

The hot springs themselves are situated along Deep Creek, a tributary of the Mojave River. The area features several pools with varying temperatures, allowing visitors to choose their preferred level of warmth. The surrounding environment is a mix of desert and riparian zones, home to various plant and animal species.

It’s important to note that visiting Deep Creek Hot Springs requires adherence to local regulations and respect for the natural environment. The area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which may impose restrictions to protect the habitat and ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors. Additionally, due to its remote location and the necessity of hiking to reach the hot springs, visitors should be well-prepared with adequate water, food, and safety gear.

Acorn Canyon


Acorn Falls

The Acorn Canyon Trail is a popular hiking trail in Wrightwood, California. It is part of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a beautiful natural setting for outdoor enthusiasts. The trail is known for its scenic views.

View from the Acorn Trail

Trail conditions, accessibility, and regulations may change over time, so it’s a good idea to check with local authorities or websites dedicated to hiking in the area for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit. Additionally, be prepared with appropriate hiking gear and follow Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment while enjoying the trail.

Acorn Canyon is indeed a part of the Angeles National Forest in California. It’s a beautiful area for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. As with any outdoor activity, it’s important to be prepared and follow safety guidelines when exploring this area.

Acorn Falls

Here are some general tips:

  1. Trail Information: Ensure you have up-to-date information about the Acorn Canyon Trail, including its length, difficulty level, and recent trail conditions or closures. This information is often found on the Angeles National Forest website or from local ranger stations.
  2. Hiking Gear: Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking. Don’t forget essentials like a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water. Depending on the season, you may also want to carry insect repellent.
  3. Trail Etiquette: Practice Leave No Trace principles by staying on designated trails, disposing of trash properly, and respecting wildlife. It’s also a good idea to yield the trail to others and be courteous to fellow hikers.
  4. Safety: Let someone know your plans, including your expected return time. Carry a map and a fully charged cell phone, but be aware that cell phone reception may be limited in some parts of the forest.
  5. Wildlife: Be aware of the potential for encounters with wildlife, including snakes. Stay on the lookout and keep a safe distance.
  6. Weather: Check the weather forecast for the area before heading out. Weather conditions can change rapidly in mountainous areas, so be prepared for sudden temperature drops or rain.
  7. Permits and Regulations: Depending on the specific trail and activities you plan to do, you may need permits or have to follow certain regulations. Check with the forest service or relevant authorities for necessary permits or rules.
  8. Emergency Contacts: Have the contact information for local emergency services or the nearest ranger station in emergencies.

Safety should be a priority when enjoying the outdoors, especially in wilderness areas like the Angeles National Forest. Enjoy your hike in Acorn Canyon and take in the area’s natural beauty while staying safe and respecting the environment.

Hike the Dawson Saddle Trail for Cooler Temps

August 19, 2020 – By Chris Kasten

Late afternoon sun works its’ way through layers of smoke and cumulus clouds while the Ranch Fire burns way down below in the mouth of San Gabriel Canyon. That’s Mt. Williamson in the background, just right of center.

Hike the Dawson Saddle Trail for cooler temps and beautiful views of canyons and desert.  A few days ago, Joanie and I drove up to Dawson Saddle for a late afternoon hike.  Located approximately 13 miles west of Wrightwood, Dawson Saddle is the highest spot along the Angeles Crest Highway.  At an elevation of 7,901′ , this trailhead starts you out at about the coolest temps possible this time of year.  While the Front Country of the San Gabriel mountains smolders during the occasional heat waves of summer,  high country hikes, or walks, are well worth considering for a refreshing getaway.

Scarlet monkey flowers are in full bloom along this small unnamed stream flowing off of Mt. Burnham. The location of the photo was taken along Highway 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) just east of Dawson Saddle. In the background is a culvert running underneath and through the old rock work of the highway.

About a mile up the trail, we caught this scene of smoke and cumulus clouds out over San Gabriel Canyon while heading toward Throop Peak.  The Ranch Fire II was still out of control a short distance up Highway 39 near Azusa.  Up above 8,000′, the breeze coming in from the Pacific was cooling yet tinged with the acrid scent of burning chaparral from miles away.   Our light began fading, and we turned around for the trailhead.  While driving home, we stopped at a spot alongside the highway, where an unnamed stream flowed down the north slope of Mt. Burnham and then under the road.  Clusters of Crimson Monkey Flower and Columbine graced the stream bed.  Scooping up the icy water and splashing our faces and arms under a darkening summer sky revived us for the twilight drive back.



California Grizzlies

The California grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus) is a subspecies of the brown bear that once inhabited various regions of California. Historically, grizzly bears were found throughout the state, from the coast to the mountains and valleys. They were an important part of California’s wildlife and played a role in the culture and folklore of indigenous peoples.

California grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus)

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, hunting, and human conflicts, the California grizzly bear population declined significantly throughout the 19th century. The last known California grizzly bear in the wild was killed in 1922 in Tulare County. The species was declared extinct in 1924.

Efforts have been made to preserve the memory of the California grizzly bear, and it is often symbolically represented in the state’s flag and seal. The California grizzly bear is also the state animal, even though it no longer exists in the wild.

1846 – 1910
1911 – 1952

There have been occasional discussions and proposals for reintroducing grizzly bears to certain parts of California, but these efforts are complex and face challenges related to habitat, human-wildlife conflicts, and public opinion. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, there were no active reintroduction programs in place. Still, it’s advisable to check for the latest information, as conservation efforts and plans may evolve.

Grizzly Bears in Bear Valley

Bears – Yosemite

Issac Slover


Benjamin Wilson leads a posse of 22 men into the San Bernardino Mountains to search for Indians who had been raiding ranches in . He discovers Big Bear Valley and gives it the name it has today. Up until 1845, Bear Valley was known to the local Serrano Indians as Yahaviat, which means “Pine Place”. – bb

Mojave Desert Ecological Transitions

The Mojave Desert, located in the southwestern United States, is a unique and ecologically diverse ecosystem known for its extreme temperatures, arid conditions, and distinct plant and animal life. Various factors, including topography, climate, and human activities, influence the transitions within the Mojave Desert ecosystem.

Here are some key ecological transitions within the Mojave Desert:

  1. Elevation Gradients:
    • The Mojave Desert exhibits significant elevation gradients, ranging from below sea level in Death Valley to higher elevations in mountainous regions such as the Spring Mountains and the Mojave National Preserve. These elevation changes lead to variations in temperature, precipitation, and vegetation types.
  2. Flora and Fauna Shifts:
    • Plant and animal species are adapted to specific elevation ranges within the Mojave Desert. As you move from lower to higher elevations, you may encounter shifts in vegetation types, with desert shrubs giving way to pinyon-juniper woodlands and eventually to coniferous forests.
  3. Water Availability:
    • Water availability is a critical factor influencing ecological transitions in the Mojave Desert. Oasis ecosystems, supported by underground aquifers or natural springs, provide unique habitats in contrast to the surrounding arid landscapes. These oases can support a higher diversity of plant and animal life.
  4. Playa Ecosystems:
    • Playas, or dry lake beds, are common features in the Mojave Desert. During rainfall, playas can fill with water, creating temporary wetland habitats that support a burst of life, including migratory birds and amphibians. However, these ecosystems are highly dependent on unpredictable precipitation patterns.
  5. Human Impact:
    • Human activities, such as urban development, agriculture, and infrastructure projects, have significantly altered the Mojave Desert landscape. Urban areas like Las Vegas and Los Angeles have expanded into the desert, leading to habitat fragmentation and loss. Human activities can disrupt natural ecological processes and contribute to invasive species encroachment.
  6. Climate Change Effects:
    • The Mojave Desert is not immune to the impacts of climate change. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can affect the distribution of plant and animal species, alter vegetation composition, and influence the timing of biological events, such as flowering and migration.
  7. Fire Ecology:
    • Fire is a natural ecological process in many ecosystems, including the Mojave Desert. Some plant species in the desert have adapted to fire, and periodic wildfires can shape vegetation patterns. However, altered fire regimes due to human activities or climate change can have complex effects on the ecosystem.
Spring Mountains
Desert Front
Ibex Spring
Emerson Dry Lake
Human Impact – Victorville

Understanding these ecological transitions is crucial for effective conservation and management of the Mojave Desert. Conservation efforts need to consider the interconnectedness of various factors and address the challenges posed by human activities and climate change to maintain the health and biodiversity of this unique desert ecosystem.

Mojave Desert Ecotones

Ecotones are transitional zones between different ecosystems, characterized by a mix of species from adjacent ecosystems and often exhibiting unique ecological dynamics. In the case of the Mojave Desert, there are several ecotones where the desert transitions into other ecosystems. Here are some notable ecotones in the Mojave Desert:

  1. Mojave Desert Scrub to Pinyon-Juniper Woodland:
    • At higher elevations in the Mojave Desert, the vegetation transitions from typical desert scrub, dominated by creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), and other drought-tolerant plants, to pinyon-juniper woodlands. Pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) become more prevalent in these transitional areas.
  2. Pinyon-Juniper Woodland to Coniferous Forest:
    • The pinyon-juniper woodlands transition further into coniferous forests in the higher mountainous regions surrounding the Mojave Desert. Species such as ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and white fir (Abies concolor) become more dominant. This transition is often associated with increasing elevation and cooler temperatures.
  3. Desert Washes and Riparian Zones:
    • Where desert washes, or arroyos, intersect with the Mojave Desert, there are ecotones characterized by riparian vegetation. These transitional zones may include cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and willow (Salix spp.) trees, providing habitat for different plant and animal species compared to the surrounding arid landscape.
  4. Desert to Playa Ecosystems:
    • The transition from the desert to playa ecosystems, such as dry lake beds, represents another ecotone. Playas can support unique vegetation adapted to periodic flooding and provide a habitat for migratory birds during wet periods.
  5. Urban-Wildland Interface:
    • There is an ecotone known as the urban-wildland interface, where urban areas encroach upon the Mojave Desert. The interaction between human-dominated landscapes and the natural desert environment characterizes this transition zone. Human activities in these areas can have significant impacts on the desert ecosystem.
  6. Mojave Desert to Great Basin Transition:
    • In the northern reaches of the Mojave Desert, there is a transition zone where the desert ecosystem merges with the Great Basin. This transition is marked by changes in vegetation and species composition influenced by elevation and precipitation.

Understanding and protecting these ecotones is crucial for preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecosystem resilience in the Mojave Desert. These transitional zones often support unique assemblages of plants and animals that are adapted to the specific conditions found at the boundaries between different ecosystems. Human activities, including urban development and climate change, can impact these ecotones, emphasizing the importance of conservation and sustainable management practices in the region.

Mojave Desert Ecozones

Ecozones, also known as ecological zones or ecoregions, are geographic areas with distinct ecological characteristics, including climate, vegetation, and animal life. In the case of the Mojave Desert, several ecozones can be identified, each with its unique set of features. These ecozones help to categorize and understand the diverse environments within the broader Mojave Desert region.

Here are some key Mojave Desert ecozones:

  1. Lower Colorado River Valley:
    • This ecozone includes the area along the lower course of the Colorado River, extending into southeastern California. Riparian habitats, including marshes and wetlands, along the riverbanks characterize it. The presence of water allows for a higher diversity of plant and animal life compared to the more arid parts of the Mojave Desert.
  2. Mojave Desert Basin and Range:
    • The Mojave Desert Basin and Range ecozone cover the central and southern parts of the Mojave Desert. It includes vast expanses of arid lands with characteristic desert scrub vegetation, dominated by creosote bush, Joshua trees, and various cacti. Basins and mountain ranges mark the terrain.
  3. Mojave High Desert:
    • This ecozone encompasses higher elevations within the Mojave Desert, including areas with pinyon-juniper woodlands and coniferous forests. It is found in mountainous regions such as the Spring Mountains and the Mojave National Preserve. The Mojave High Desert exhibits cooler temperatures and a different plant and animal community compared to lower elevations.
  4. Sonoran Desert Transition:
    • Along the Mojave Desert’s southern boundary is a transition zone into the Sonoran Desert. This ecozone exhibits characteristics of both deserts and supports a mix of plant species from both regions. A warmer and subtropical climate influences the Sonoran Desert Transition ecozone compared to the central Mojave.
  5. Mojave Desert Playas:
    • Playas, or dry lake beds, are characteristic features of the Mojave Desert landscape. These flat, unvegetated areas are part of the Mojave Desert Playas ecozone. They are important for unique plant and animal communities adapted to the periodic flooding during rain events.
  6. Mojave-Upland Desert Scrub:
    • This ecozone includes upland areas within the Mojave Desert, characterized by desert scrub vegetation. It represents the transitional zone between lower elevations and the Mojave High Desert, showcasing variations in plant composition and adaptations to different environmental conditions.

Understanding these ecozones is essential for the Mojave Desert’s conservation efforts and management strategies. Each ecozone has its ecological processes, biodiversity, and environmental challenges. Conservation initiatives should consider each ecozone’s specific characteristics to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the Mojave Desert ecosystem.


A desert microhabitat refers to a small-scale environment within a desert with unique characteristics and supporting specific life forms. Deserts are harsh ecosystems characterized by low precipitation levels and extreme temperatures. Despite these challenging conditions, various microhabitats exist within deserts, providing specialized plants and animals with niches to thrive. Here are some examples of desert microhabitats:

  1. Shade of Rocks or Sand Dunes:
    • Some plants and animals find refuge in the shade provided by rocks or dunes, where temperatures are slightly lower.
  2. Rock Crevices:
    • Gaps and crevices in rocks can offer protection from the sun and wind. Certain plant species may establish themselves in these microenvironments.
  3. Dry Riverbeds (Washes):
    • Though dry for much of the year, riverbeds in deserts (washes) may have occasional water flow during rain events, attracting a variety of life adapted to sporadic water availability.
  4. Salt Flats:
    • In some desert regions, there are vast salt flats where specific salt-tolerant plants and microorganisms can survive.
  5. Oases:
    • Oases are areas with water sources, often surrounded by vegetation. They provide a vital microhabitat for a diversity of plant and animal species in an otherwise arid landscape.
  6. Burrows and Nests:
    • Some desert animals create burrows or nests to escape extreme temperatures and predators. Examples include burrowing rodents, reptiles, and certain bird species.
  7. Cryptobiosis in Microorganisms:
    • Certain microorganisms in deserts can enter a state of cryptobiosis, a dormant condition that allows them to survive extreme dryness until conditions become more favorable.
  8. Surface Crusts:
    • Microbial crusts on the desert surface, composed of algae, fungi, and bacteria, play a crucial role in stabilizing soil and preventing erosion. They also contribute to nutrient cycling.
  9. Camouflage Adaptations:
    • Both plants and animals in deserts often have adaptations for camouflage, helping them blend in with the surroundings and avoid predators.

Understanding and preserving these microhabitats is essential for the conservation of desert ecosystems. Even small-scale disturbances can significantly impact the delicate balance of life in these environments.

MICROHABITAT – Mojave Desert – Glossary of Terms and Definitions › glossary › microhabitat

Desert Wash – Desert Habitats. Roadside water runoff can also create a microhabitat of its own. The sacred datura, also called jimson weed or thorn apple, …

Microhabitats › joshua-tree-national-park › cap-rock-trail

Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Desert – Cap Rock Interpretive Trail.

Sacred Datura (Jimson Weed) – Desert Wildflower Photo › wildflower › datura

Microhabitat · Indian Culture Ceremonialism · Wildflower Photo Guide · Joshua Tree National Park · List of Mojave Desert Shrubs * · Plants at Hoover Dam · Zion …

Desert Wash – Desert Habitats › desert-habitats › desert-wash

Unlike the sparse vegetation in most of the Mojave, plantlife in washes is lush and deep-rooted. Plants range from shrubs such as the catclaw acacia, cheesebush …

Pinto Period › death-valley-history › pinto-period

Dramatic environmental changes came to the Mojave Desert with the end of the Pleistocene Era, characterized by harsh climatic conditions with higher …

Joshua Tree Nature Trails › joshua-tree-national-park › nature-trails

Oasis Visitor Center, Twentynine Palms. Skull Rock – .25 mile loop, Microhabitat – Cap Rock · A relict population – Hidden Valley · Disappearing soil – Arch …

Pinyon Pine, REGENERATION PROCESSES › trees › pinus-monophylla › 2.00.html

The seed characteristics and the microhabitats in which seeds are placed are important in determining their fate after dispersal. … Singleleaf pinyon seedlings …

Cap Rock › joshua-tree-national-park › cap-rock-trail

Cap Rock. Cap Rock formation, Joshua Tree National Park In the Land of Little Rain The Mojave Desert, called by Mary Austin “the land …

Pinyon Pine, Pinus Monophylla – Mojave Desert Trees › trees › pinus-monophylla

The ecotones between singleleaf pinyon woodlands and adjacent shrublands and grasslands provide favorable microhabitats for singleleaf pinyon seedling …

Rain & Rain Shadow

Rainshadow Desert

Rain shadow desert. Clouds fill in East San Gabriel Canyon
Inspiration Point, Angeles National Forest

Mojave Desert Rain Shadow

The Mojave Desert rain shadow is a meteorological phenomenon that occurs in the southwestern United States. A rain shadow is an area on the leeward side of a mountain or mountain range that receives significantly less precipitation than the windward side. In the case of the Mojave Desert, this rain shadow effect is primarily influenced by the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The prevailing westerly winds carry moist air from the Pacific Ocean. As this air rises over the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, it cools and condenses, leading to precipitation. By the time the air descends on the eastern side of the mountains, it has lost much of its moisture, creating a rain shadow effect.

The Mojave Desert, located east of the Sierra Nevada in California, experiences this rain shadow effect. The descending air on the eastern side of the mountains warms up, leading to a drier and warmer climate in the Mojave Desert compared to the western side of the Sierra Nevada.

As a result, the Mojave Desert is characterized by arid and semi-arid conditions, with lower annual precipitation than the Sierra Nevada’s western slopes. This rain shadow effect plays a significant role in shaping the climate and ecosystem of the region. The Mojave Desert is known for its unique flora and fauna adapted to the arid conditions influenced by the rain shadow effect.

American Desert – The Mojave Desert

Overview. View from shadow mountains near El Mirage The Mojave Desert exists in a rain shadow created by the Transverse Ranges and the Sierra Nevada Mountain …

Panamint Valley

The Mojave Desert – Life at the Extremes

For example, the California portion of the desert often receives as little as 3 cm of rain. The Mojave is considered a rain shadow desert because the …

Natural and Cultural Settings in the California Mojave

Fremont Valley

As mentioned, the Mojave Desert is characterized by its extreme aridity caused by a rain shadow effect. Annual rainfall amounts to around 10 to …

Water in the Mojave Desert

The rain shadow effect is produced by the high mountains on the west, which block the movement of wet winter storms. Artesian Wells · Flash Floods · Intro:: …

Joshua Tree National Park

… rain shadow” effect produced by the high mountains on the west, and 2) the … The Joshua trees serve as a rain gauge in those areas of the desert where no …

Diversity in California

Desert conditions exist in the rain shadow of the mountain ranges. This exceptional variation in landscape features, latitudinal range, geological …

Cajon Pass Physical Attributes

The rain shadow from the San Gabriel Mountains affects vegetation types and water availability in the Mojave Front Country Place. It is a transition zone …


San Juan Capistrano (Wrightwood) 

December 8, 1812 | M7.5

This midmorning earthquake occurred on December 8, 1812, with an estimated magnitude of 7.5 (Mw). The location is uncertain but probably on the San Andreas fault near Wrightwood in San Bernardino County.

This quake is remembered, and named after, its death toll: forty Native Americans attending mass at San Juan Capistrano were killed when the church collapsed due to the mortar in the walls failing. Records from this time are poor, but it is likely that there was also damage at Mission San Gabriel and in San Diego.

1857 Fort Tejon Earthquake

The Fort Tejon earthquake occurred on January 9, 1857, and is one of the largest historical earthquakes in California. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.9 and was associated with the southern segment of the San Andreas Fault

1952 Kern County Earthquake

The 1952 Kern County earthquake occurred in southern California on July 21, 1952. This earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 7.3, making it one of the most powerful earthquakes in California’s history. The epicenter was near the White Wolf Fault in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

1872 Owens Valley Earthquake

The 1872 Owens Valley earthquake was a significant seismic event on March 26, 1872, in Owens Valley, California, USA. The earthquake is estimated to have had a magnitude of 7.4 to 7.9, making it one of the largest historical earthquakes in California.

Cajon Pass 

July 22, 1899 | M5.7

On July 22, 1899, a magnitude 5.7 (ML) earthquake occurred about 15 miles northwest of San Bernardino. People reported feeling this quake in much of Southern California. No deaths were reported, but the number of injuries is uncertain.

The earthquake caused landslides that blocked the Lytle Creek Canyon road and the road through Cajon Pass. It also caused some damage to buildings in San Bernardino, Highland and Patton. Minor damage was also reported in Redlands, Pomona, Riverside, Pasadena and Los Angeles.


April 10, 1947 | M6.5

On April 10, 1947, a magnitude 6.5 (Mw) earthquake occurred about 25 miles east of Barstow. Because of its remote location, it didn’t cause a lot of damage. However, there were reports of cracked floors and walls, a few collapsed structures, and heavy objects being moved.

This quake was notable because it was the largest earthquake at that time—and the first to cause surface rupture (about three miles of rupture)—in the Mojave Block tectonic region.

Big Bear Earthquake

TYPE OF FAULTING: left-lateral strike-slip
TIME: June 28, 1992 / 8:05:30 am PDT
LOCATION: 34° 12′ N, 116° 49.6′ W 8 km (5 miles) SE of Big Bear Lake 40 km (25 miles) east of San Bernardino

DEPTH: 5 km

While technically an “aftershock” of the Landers earthquake (indeed, the largest aftershock), the Big Bear earthquake occurred over 40 km west of the Landers rupture, on a fault with a different orientation and sense of slip than those involved in the main shock — an orientation and slip which could be considered “conjugate” to the faults which slipped in the Landers rupture.

The Big Bear earthquake rupture did not break the surface; in fact, no surface trace of a fault with the proper orientation has been found in the area. However, the earthquake produced its own set of aftershocks, and from these, we know the fault geometry — left-lateral slip on a northeast-trending fault.

Following the Landers mainshock by three hours (it occurred while TV news coverage of the Landers earthquake was being broadcast live from Caltech), the Big Bear earthquake caused a substantial amount of damage in the Big Bear area, but fortunately claimed no lives. Landslides triggered by the jolt blocked roads in the San Bernardino Mountains, however, aggravating the clean-up and rebuilding process.