Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation was examined in 131 individuals of the Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) from across the species range in southwestern North America. Bayesian inference and nested clade phylogeographic analyses (NCPA) were used to estimate relationships and infer evolutionary processes. These patterns were evaluated as they relate to previously hypothesized vicariant events and new insights are provided into the biogeographic and evolutionary processes important in Baja California and surrounding North American deserts. Three major lineages (Lineages A, B, and C) are revealed with very little overlap. Lineage A and B are predominately separated along the Colorado River and are found primarily within California and Arizona (respectively), while Lineage C consists of disjunct groups distributed along the Baja California peninsula as well as south-central Arizona, southward along the coastal regions of Sonora, Mexico. Estimated divergence time points (using a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock) and geographic congruence with postulated vicariant events suggest early extensions of the Gulf of California and subsequent development of the Colorado River during the Late Miocene-Pliocene led to the formation of these mtDNA lineages. Our results also suggest that vicariance hypotheses alone do not fully explain patterns of genetic variation. Therefore, we highlight the importance of dispersal to explain these patterns and current distribution of populations. We also compare the mtDNA lineages with those based on morphological variation and evaluate their implications for taxonomy. ?? 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.