The Sonoran Desert is one of the hottest deserts that can be found in North America. It is also one of the continent’s largest deserts, covering an area of roughly 100,000 square miles. Within the United States, it stretches across much of southern Arizona and into southeastern California. Crossing over the Mexico border, it extends into the Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur regions. In the lower areas of the Sonoran Desert, it can get up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. The mountain areas are cooler and forested, and some peaks are even snow covered. In relation to rain, the Sonoran Desert has two main rainy seasons and gets more rain on average than any other desert in the world. This helps sustain its numerous plant and animal species.
Sonoran Desert Animals
Sonoran Desert Animals
While the Sonoran Desert is a very dry and hot expanse, it certainly isn’t devoid of life. The resident animals include 60 mammal species, 20 amphibian species, more than 100 reptile species, and 350 bird species. There are even 30 native fish species. Gila monsters are among the most curious Sonoran Desert animals. These heavy lizards can measure up to two feet long and are the only venomous lizards that are native to the United States. Bobcats, coyotes, desert bighorn sheep, javelinas (wild pigs), pronghorn antelopes, round-tailed ground squirrels, cactus wrens, and cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls are just some of the other animals that live in the Sonoran Desert. The region is also home to the United States’s only population of jaguars. These big cats inhabit an area to the southwest of Tucson. In relation to plants, the most iconic example that can be found in the Sonoran Desert is the Saguaro cactus. You won’t find Saguaros growing in the wild anywhere else on earth.
Outdoor Recreation Image: CEBImagery.com (flickr)
Those who plan on enjoying some outdoor recreation during their Sonoran Desert visit are encouraged to bring their hiking boots along. There are plenty of trails that wind their ways through the region, and the area’s parks and protected areas can be good places to find them. Examples of U.S. parks and protected areas that are found in the Sonoran Desert include, but are not limited to, the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Saguaro National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park. Both the Sonoran Desert National Monument and Saguaro National Park are found in southern Arizona. Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California and extends into the higher Mojave Desert region. You can also go horseback riding along some of the trails in the Sonoran Desert, and the area is quite popular among rock climbers and scramblers. Camping and biking are just two more examples of recreational activities that can be enjoyed in the region, with the parks and protected areas once again being good places to consider when looking to enjoy such activities.
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Image: Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Facebook page
One of the main attractions that can be found in the Sonoran Desert is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is certainly one of the most popular southern Arizona museums. You can find the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum at 2021 North Kinney Road in Tucson, and it offers plenty for the visitor to enjoy. The facilities include a museum, a zoo, and a botanical garden. There are also nearly two miles of walking paths that traverse approximately 21 acres of desert terrain. The kinds of animals that are on display at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum hail from the region, and it is worth noting that the museum is known for the naturalistic enclosures that it provides for its resident creatures.