Sonoran Desert – Wild Places

By January 16, 2018

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The huge cactus - Carnegie giant (Carnegiea gigantea). Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, US

When we think of deserts the first place to come to most people’s mind is Africa, however, there are deserts all over the world, even in places you wouldn’t expect.

In fact the definition of a desert is by definition “A large, dry, barren region, usually having sandy or rocky soil and little or no vegetation. Water lost to evaporation and transpiration in a desert exceeds the amount of precipitation; most deserts average less than 25 cm (9.75 inches) of precipitation each year, concentrated in short local bursts” and in fact, there is a large desert in the Antarctic – one of the coldest places on Earth, due to how little rainfall it gets.

Another surprising place you wouldn’t expect to find a desert is located in the middle of one of the worlds largest and most developed countries. The USA.

The hottest place in America is the Sonoran Desert, located in the southwest of America and northern Mexico, the desert covers 310,000 sq km (120,000 sq mi). It is also the second largest desert in North America, the Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in the region.


During the summer months, the air temperate regularly exceed 40°C (104°F) and often reach 48°C (118°F).

The desert usually see’s less than 3 inches of rainfall a year

Being in America and the land of the free. They have tried to make money on a desert, including among others being exploited by animal grazers.

To help preserve some of nature which includes over 2,000 different types of plants and 500 species of animals the Sonoran Desert National Monument was established with the aim to preserve an unspoilt tract. The monument is located in Arizona.

Scientist argue that the desert is actually made up of 7 smaller regions as each region has distinct and unique plants and wildlife.

The area which is part of the monument includes a variety of plant and animal species which thrive in a desert-like environment as well many significant archaeological and historical sites.

Sunset in Sonoran Desert, near Phoenix

Most famous:

The desert as well as being the largest in North America, it’s pretty well known for its Saguaro Cactus, with their famous distinctive upstretched arms, which are often used in cartoons.

Getting here:

Getting the desert is pretty easy, there are many routes from both the US and Mexico.


While the exact numbers are not known, in America alone here are reported to be over 17 different Indian tribes which have not only survived but thrived in the region.

The largest city in the desert is Phoenix in Arizona with over 4.3million residents. There are quite a few other cities which are in the desert but to really appreciate the desert you need to head out into the wilderness.

It’s worth going to just say you have visited the hottest desert in North America.

This is part of our series looking at Wild Places around the world to explore.

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