Providence Mountains

State Recreation Area - California

The Providence Mountains State Recreation Area is located in the Providence Mountains, within the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, California. It is also home to the Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve.

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Official visitor map of Mojave National Preserve (NPRES) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Mojave - Visitor Map

Official visitor map of Mojave National Preserve (NPRES) in California. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=615 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Providence_Mountains_State_Recreation_Area The Providence Mountains State Recreation Area is located in the Providence Mountains, within the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, California. It is also home to the Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve.
Providence Mountains State Recreation Area Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (760) 928-2586. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact interp@parks.ca.gov. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Providence Mountains State Recreation Area 38200 Essex Road or P.O. Box 1 Essex, CA 92332 • (760) 928-2586 © 2010 California State Parks (Rev. 2017) In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Jack and Ida Mitchell shared with thousands of fortunate visitors the cool beauty of the caverns’ magnificent “draperies” and “coral pipes” formations. V isitors to Providence Mountains State Recreation Area are greeted by the sight of jagged slopes of gray limestone, topped by volcanic peaks of red rhyolite. Located on the eastern slope of the Providence Mountains Range, the park lies within the boundaries of the 1.6-million acre Mojave National Preserve. From its vantage point at 4,300 feet above the valley floor, the park headquarters offers stunning views of the surrounding Mojave Desert. On extremely clear days, the distant granite peaks of Arizona’s Hualapai Mountains are visible. PARK HISTORY Geology The park has the oldest known rocks of the State Park System—pre-Cambrian granitoids as old as 1.7 billion years. These ancient rocks can be seen as outcroppings on the slopes below the dark to creamy gray limestone of the Bird Spring Formation. The contact between the pre-Cambrian rocks (gneiss) and the overlying Paleozoic Bird Spring Formation was created by movement along the East Providence fault. The Bird Spring Formation represents a 50-millionyear period of quiet stability—when this region was covered by a warm, shallow sea that left abundant shell-covered organisms on the sea floor. The shells and plant materials that settled on the sea bottom eventually became limestone. As the restless land heaved upward, these formations were pushed above the level of the former ocean bed. Fountain Peak and Edgar Peak, at the westernmost edge of the park, stand nearly 7,000 feet above sea level. These peaks are composed of Jurassic-aged Fountain Peak Rhyolite, which intruded into the limestone about 150 million years ago. Over time, the overlying rocks eroded and were transported bit by bit to the expansive basins of today’s Mojave Desert. About 12 million years ago, this area was much wetter than today and covered with luxuriant vegetation. Rainwater seeped through the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and forming a weak solution of carbonic acid. The acid dissolved the underlying limestone, enlarging cracks and pockets that eventually joined to form subterranean chambers and passageways. Over thousands of years, the water table dropped, emptying the caverns and leaving the area intensely dry. Small amounts of groundwater became saturated with dissolved calcium from Travertine (limestone cave deposits) forms “draperies” on the walls at Mitchell Caverns. the limestone parent rock. As the water evaporated, it left behind thin layers of calcite crystals. Over millennia, these countless drops of water created the fanciful and intricate formations that make up Mitchell Caverns. Native People The Chemehuevi (pronounced Chem-eWAY-vee) people, a branch of the Southern Paiute, have lived in the area of Providence Mountains SRA for at least 500 years. Known among themselves as Nüwü, or the People, they migrated into the area beginning about 1,000 years ago. When the Spanish arrived in the late 1700s, they were the first to document the Chemehuevi as a distinctive group of people. Modern local Chemehuevi live and work in Twentynine Palms, Banning, and Indio. Europeans Father Francisco Garcés, the first European in the area, crossed the Mojave Desert in 1776 on his way to the San Gabriel Mission. Fifty years later, Jedediah Smith and a party of trappers took the same route. The proximity of water sources governed the construction of wagon roads and settlements, and remnants of some wayside camps are visible today. Mining The Providence Mountains were named by travelers who believed that abundant water sources had been “sent from Providence.” Around the early 1860s, word got out that the area was rich in mineral deposits. Thousands effectively. Some eventually took menial jobs in mining camps. The years of greatest prosperity for the mining industry were from 1870 to 1893, when the U.S. government was buying up most of the silver ore at high prices. When the gov

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