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April 11-15, 2024

Desert Symposium 2024
Desert Studies Center
Zzyzx, California



Manuscript Deadlines:

February 1, 2024: More Information.

Email manuscripts to editor David Miller - dmiller@usgs.gov

April 4, 2024: More Information.

Email pdf presentation to Bruce Bridenbecker - bridenbecker.dsi@gmail.com

Reynolds Award Deadline:

March 1, 2024 More Information.


Get your kicks: Trails across the Mojave

Despite the completion of Route 66, the deserts of the American southwest continue to challenge travelers, as they have for millennia. Luckily, the records of those travelers in the form of trails, roads, and railroads remain. In fact, the earliest tracks are fossil trackways such as those of the dinosaurs, recorded in sandstone. And perhaps the most modern of trails is the contrail display provided by jets passing overhead. Today's Mojave Trails National Monument celebrates many of the historic trails.

We will examine the desert prehistory of Native American trails used for cultural exchange and access to vital resources within and beyond the desert, later followed by Spanish and American explorers and settlers. With the introduction of railroads and mine roads, new paths were forged and new towns formed. More new paths came with the development of utility corridors to move fuel, water, and electricity across the desert and to link people with telegraph and telephone lines.

Paths are used by wildlife but roads and aqueducts also have biological impacts. They fragment the desert, challenging wildlife. And roads disrupt stream flow and may provide corridors for introduction of invasive species.

We invite papers and abstracts (for talks or posters) for our 2024 annual meeting. As usual, topics associated with this year's theme are highlighted but any topic about deserts is encouraged. Send your ideas and questions to Dave Miller (dmiller@usgs.gov).
Topics associated with this year's theme might include:

  • Native American trails, markings, camps, cultural practices.
  • Spanish explorations: where and when and why? How did the desert differ 250 years ago?
  • Early American exploration, trading, emigration, and mining.
  • Military camps and roads, steamboat routes on the Colorado River, railroads.
  • Fossil trackways and modern animal trackways.
  • Road influence on wildlife and plant habitat, dispersal patterns.
  • Abandonment of towns and roads with development of freeways and changing railroad uses.
  • Technologies of trail building from hand tools to the hydrogen bomb.
  • Federal and State efforts to preserve and appreciate historic trails.
  • Life stories of people in the desert.

The 2024 Field trip will examine prehistoric and historic paths along the Mojave River, Route 66, railroads, the historic Mojave Road and its predecessors, springs along historic routes, and Patton's Camp Iron Mountain.


The ruins of Fort Piute on the Mojave Road

Fort Pah-Ute ruins, Paiute Spring, California (2019 photo)


SHARE YOUR RESEARCH: Original and previously unpublished scientific research papers relating to the Mojave Desert or any subject involving any desert are welcome. All papers submitted will be peer-reviewed for relevance to desert topics and scientific content before acceptance.

TOPICS: geology, biology, botany, ecology, archaeology, hydrology, paleontology, tectonics, climate, history, mining, mineralogy, conservation, desert resource management

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