The Mojave Desert is one of the most iconic deserts in North America, spanning over 47,000 square miles across four states: California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It is known for its extreme temperatures, rugged terrain, and unique flora and fauna.
Geography and Climate Of Mojave Desert
- The Mojave Desert is the driest desert in North America, with an annual rainfall of only 2-4 inches.
- This place is known for its extreme weather conditions, with average temperatures ranging from 40°F (4°C) in the winter to over 100°F (38°C) in the summer.
- It is the smallest of the four North American deserts. In comparison, New York State covers an area of approximately 54,555 square miles. Thus, New York State is larger than this desert by approximately 7,555 square miles.
- The desert is located at elevations ranging from 800 feet to 4,000 feet above sea level.
- It is bordered by the Great Basin Desert to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south.
Flora and Fauna Of Mojave Desert
- The Joshua tree, a species of the yucca plant, is unique to this desert and grows only in this area.
- The Mojave Desert is home to the endangered desert tortoise, which can live up to 100 years.
- Other animals found here include bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, jackrabbits, and rattlesnakes.
- The Mojave Desert is home to the largest nocturnal lizard in North America, the Gila monster.
- The creosote bush is the most common plant in this desert. It can live up to 11,000 years!
Culture and History
- The Mojave Desert was home to several Native American tribes, including the Chemehuevi, the Mojave, and the Serrano.
- There is a historic trail used by Native Americans and later by explorers and pioneers. It’s called the Mojave Road, and it crosses the desert.
- This desert was an important location during the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s.
- In the 20th century, this desert became a popular location for military testing and training, including the infamous Area 51.
- Route 66, one of the most famous highways in the United States, passes through the desert.
Landmarks and Attractions
- Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, is located here. That’s one of the hottest and driest places on Earth.
- The Mojave National Preserve covers over 1.6 million acres and is home to unique geological features such as the Kelso Dunes and the Mojave lava tube.
- Joshua Tree National Park, which covers over 790,000 acres, is located here. It is known for its unique rock formations and, of course, its namesake Joshua trees.
- The Mojave Desert is home to the Mojave Air and Space Port, a commercial spaceport used for aircraft testing and space launches.
- The Integratron, a unique dome-shaped structure in the desert, is known for its supposed ability to heal and rejuvenate the human body. But, of course, those are just rumors.