Pinto Basin Road Under Construction; Expect travel delays up to 30-minutes
The ongoing construction project to improve Pinto Basin Road will impact travel between the northern portion of the park and the Cottonwood/I-10 area. Please plan accordingly. The project is expected to be completed in August 2014. More »
Deteriorating conditions of Black Rock Canyon Road
The road leading to Black Rock campground has deep potholes, is deeply rutted, and can be difficult to negotiate, especially in large vehicles. Please drive with caution.
Access to some Cottonwood trails remains closed
Trail access remains closed to Cottonwood Spring Oasis, Lost Palms Oasis, and Mastodon Peak. More »
As the Pleistocene Epoch drew to a close ten thousand years ago, and the rivers of glacial ice melted, people lived in an environment dramatically different from today—both cooler and wetter. Lakes and swamps existed where no water remains now. Lush grasslands covered the plains, supporting mammoths, mastodons, horses, camels, and, in some areas, bison.
The Campbells believed that there had been a river flowing through Pinto Basin but more recent research by geologists dispels the notion that there was either a river or a lake in Pinto Basin by the time humans occupied the area. The points collected by the Cambells are thick and triangular in shape, with notched shoulders and a broad stem. Pinto hunters attached the points to a wooden spear shaft and used a spear thrower, or atlatl, to propel the spear. Based on the relatively large number of Pinto points—as well as cutting and scraping tools—compared with the few seed-processing implements found at these early sites, it is believed that Pinto Culture was a mobile population dependent upon large game hunting and seasonal plant gathering.
The period of Pinto Culture occupation was an era of decreasing moisture, and by the end the environment was probably close to what we have today. As the Pleistocene water sources dried up, only desert adapted plants and animals survived. The archeological evidence suggests that the human population gradually adapted as well, by hunting smaller game and processing small seeds.
Today’s Tribal Groups
Did You Know?
Humans have occupied the area encompassed by Joshua Tree National Park for at least 5,000 years. The first group known to inhabit the area was the Pinto Culture, followed by the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla. More...