Silver Lake is the modern terminal playa of the Mojave River in southern California (USA). As a result, it is well located to record both influences from the winter precipitation dominated San Bernardino Mountains – the source of the Mojave River – and from the late summer to early fall North American monsoon at Silver Lake. Here, we present various physical, chemical and biological data from a new radiocarbon-dated, 8.2 m sediment core taken from Silver Lake that spans modern through 14.8 cal ka BP. Texturally, the core varies between sandy clay, clayey sand, and sand-silt-clay, often with abrupt sedimentological transitions. These grain-size changes are used to divide the core into six lake status intervals over the past 14.8 cal ka BP. Notable intervals include a dry Younger Dryas chronozone, a wet early Holocene terminating 7.8 – 7.4 cal ka BP, a distinct mid-Holocene arid interval, and a late Holocene return to ephemeral lake conditions. A comparison to potential climatic forcings implicates a combination of changing summer – winter insolation and tropical and N Pacific sea-surface temperature dynamics as the primary drivers of Holocene climate in the central Mojave Desert.