The Mojave Desert, while being a sparsely populated land on the whole, is one of North America’s most popular tourist destinations. The popularity of the region has something to do with the fact that it is where you will find the vibrant city of Las Vegas. Other smaller regional cities also attract their fair share of visitors, and the scenic beauty of the overall terrain is partly responsible for drawing people in. Numerous mountain ranges are found in the Mojave Desert, and they certainly lend to the region’s scenic appeal. A variety of plants and animals can also be seen while wandering through this arid expanse, and there are several major parks that serve to protect the flora and fauna. Among these parks is Death Valley National Park, which is a good indicator of just how dramatic the elevation changes can be in the Mojave Desert. The lowest point in Death Valley National Park is Badwater Basin – 282 feet below sea level. The highest point – Telescope Peak – rises to an elevation of 11,049 feet above sea level.
Mojave Desert Animals
Mojave Desert Animals
The Mojave Desert covers an area of approximately 50,000 square miles, and while it can mostly be found in southeastern California, it also extends into parts of central California, southern Nevada, and portions of Utah and Arizona. Add in the fact that the sizeable region is so sparsely populated by humans, and it is little wonder that so many animals have moved in and made it their home. Cougars, coyotes, kit foxes, and bobcats figure among the regional predators, and they tend to subsist on such creatures as cottontail rabbits, desert chipmunks, and mule deer. Lizards can also enter into their diets, and there are certainly plenty of lizards in the Mojave Desert. Other examples of Mojave Desert animals include desert tortoises, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorns, California kingsnakes, Gila monsters, Mojave ground squirrels, red-tailed hawks, elf owls, and tarantulas. The list doesn’t end there, and when you add it all up, it is quite surprising that such an arid region could support so much life.
Parks & Protected Areas
Parks & Protected Areas
Numerous parks and protected areas can be found within the confines of the extensive Mojave Desert. Many are found in California, the most famous of which include Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve. Other California parks such as the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area and Red Rock Canyon State Park also provide regional visitors with places to explore, and Nevada offers up such protected destinations as the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park awaits. These are just some examples of the parks and protected areas within the Mojave Desert, and there are definitely plenty of spots where regional visitors can enjoy a variety of fun recreational activities.
The Mojave Desert might be sparsely populated on the whole, but that doesn’t mean that it is devoid of cities and resort areas. The largest city in the land is Las Vegas, and thanks to its large resort hotels and extensive entertainment options, it definitely has a resort feel. Another popular place to visit in the Mojave region is the Coachella Valley, which is where you will find Palm Springs and other California desert hot spots. Lake Havasu City straddles the California and Arizona borders and is just one more example of a resort city in the Mojave Desert. Those who are looking to expand their horizons might also consider visiting Laughlin or Bullhead City, which can be found on either side of Lake Mohave. Laughlin sits on the Nevada side of Lake Mohave, while Bullhead City is on the Arizona side.
Museums Image: califrt66museum.org
Cultural enthusiasts who are spending time in the Mojave Desert region can add several museum visits to their itineraries. Among these museums is the Route 66 Museum in Victorville, California. Its displays revolve around such things as automotive history and the cultural and economic impacts that Route 66 had on the country. The exhibitions at the California Route 66 Museum are constantly changing, so repeat visitors can usually expect to view fresh content. Another California city also offers a Route 66 museum. This city is Barstow, and the museum in question is more specifically known as the Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum. Among the things that are on display at the Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum are artworks that were inspired by the famous road. Other examples of Mojave Desert museums that are found in Barstow include the Desert Discovery Center, the Mojave River Valley Museum, and the Western America Railroad Museum. Also worth keeping in mind is the Maturango Museum. Found in Ridgecrest, California, this museum focuses on the natural and cultural histories of the Northern Mojave Desert.