There are 3 main deserts of California: The Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert and the Great Basin Desert. These deserts are home to a variety of plant and animal species. Learn more about each of the California deserts below.
The Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert is one of the main deserts in Southern California. It is located in southeastern California and southern Nevada and is bordered by another California desert, the Great Basin desert. The desert occupies about 48,000 square miles, which is the smallest of all California deserts. The Mojave desert is known for its abundance of Joshua trees, which are only native to this desert. This desert includes Death Valley, which is the hottest part in North America and also Las Vegas.
Temperatures in the Mojave desert can be as low as 0° Fahrenheit and reach up to 120 °F in the Death Valley area. Mountain ranges and valleys make up the geography in the Mojave desert. Because Las Vegas is located in the Mojave desert, this desert is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Common wildlife found in the Mojave include desert tortoise, burrowing owl, coyote, Mojave green rattlesnake and cottontail rabbit.
The Colorado Desert
The Colorado desert occupies 7 million acres and is part of the Sonoran desert. The desert includes the Imperial Valley, parts of San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. It has a more subtropical climate than the Mojave. Temperatures in this desert can exceed 120° degrees. The area has a wide variety of flora and fauna. Some of the plant species you will find here are creosote bush, yucca, cholla and saltbush. Common animal species are black-tailed jackrabbit, mule deer, bobcat, and kangaroo rat.
The Great Basin Desert
The Great Basin desert resides between the Wasatch Range and the Sierra Nevada. The desert has a temperate climate with hot summers and snowy winters. Valleys and peaks make up the geography of this desert and has created a variety of habitats for species. Some plant species found in this desert are sagebrush, pinyon-juniper forests, and white and Douglas firs.
Be sure to check out our post on Species of the Mojave Desert.