Deserts cover huge area of California, about 25 million acres in the southeastern corner of the state, about the size of Virginia. The deserts are roughly divided into several regions: The Anza-Borrego Desert east of San Diego, the Colorado Desert east of the Colorado River, the vast Mojave Desert south and east of the Sierras, and a part of the Great Basin Desert, which covers Nevada, Idaho, and Utah. The deserts are not just flat barren stretches of sand. The desert area has a tremendous variety of plant and animal life and landforms, and there are lots of things to see. The best times to visit are in fall, winter, or spring. The summers can be extremely hot. Death Valley is the hottest place in the United States in the summer. Winters can be very pleasant. Palm Springs is a favorite winter escape and retirement area for celebrities and the wealthy. In the spring, the deserts come alive with brilliant displays of wildflowers.
The deserts are much dryer than coastal areas of California. The mountain ranges to the west catch the moisture-laden clouds from the Pacific and wring them dry. Death Valley is behind 2 mountain ranges. Even so, there are lakes and rivers to be found, though the waters may be highly alkaline.
Here are some interesting places to visit in the desert:
View from above Calico, looking towards the Mojave
View of Calico looking towards the backing mountains
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Ron Horii, San Jose
Created 10/8/97. Last update: 11/14/97