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Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert

The Mojave or Mohave Desert occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Named after the Mohave tribe of Native Americans, it occupies over 22,000 mi² (35,000 km²) in a typical Basin and Range topography.

The Mojave Desert is bound in part by the Tehachapi together with the San Gabriel and San Bernadino mountain ranges. The mountain boundaries are quite distinct since they are outlined by the two largest faults in California: the San Andreas and the Garlock. Its northern and eastern boundaries are less distinct. One way to determine entry is by observing the presence of Joshua Trees.

The Mojave Desert receives less than 6 inches (150 mm) of rain a year and is generally between 3,000 and 6,000 feet (1,000 and 2,000 m) in elevation. The Mojave Desert also contains the Mojave National Preserve and the lowest-hottest place in North America: Death Valley, where the temperature normally approaches 120F (50C) in late July and early August. Despite its aridity, the Mojave (and particularly the Antelope Valley in its southwest) has long been a center of alfalfa production, fed by irrigation coming from groundwater and (in the 20th century) from the California Aqueduct.

The Mojave, like all deserts in general, is known for its summer heat; however, much less renowned is the Mojave's wintertime cold. Snow, although uncommon, does fall in parts of the Mojave. Amounts range from just a trace to a foot or more of heavy wet snow which can lead to freeway traffic closures and being "snowed in". The coldest wintertime temperature ranges have been below freezing yet above 0F. That said, many parts of the Mojave typically range from highs of around 95–105F in the summer to lows of around 20–30F in the winter.

Wind is also a weather factor. Las Vegas, situated on the desert's east, may not have many winds, but the community of Mojave, situated at its western end, can have wind nearly every day — even winds surpassing fifty miles per hour. Nearby Tehachapi Pass, due to the high likelihood of reliable wind, is home to an extensive electrical windmill turbine "farm" which converts wind, a renewable-clean-resource, into electricity.

The Mojave Desert contains a number of ghost towns, the most significant of these being the silver-mining town of Calico, California and the old railroad depot of Kelso. Some of the other ghost towns are of the more modern variety, created when Route 66 (and the lesser-known US Highway 91) were abandoned in favor of the Interstates. The Mojave Desert is crossed by major highways Interstate 15, Interstate 40, US Highway 395 and US Highway 95.

Among the more popular and unique tourist attractions in the Mojave is the self described World's Largest Thermometer at 135 feet high, reportedly also the highest F temperature ever recorded in the region, which is located along Interstate 15 in Baker, California. Kelso Dunes is also a popular recreation spot.

The Mojave River is an important source of water in this arid land. A part of the Colorado River also traverses its far eastern portion.

Cities in the Mojave Desert include Victorville, Barstow, Palmdale, Ridgecrest, and Needles, California. Las Vegas, Nevada is the Mojave's largest city and metropolitan area.

Angelenos often refer to its southwestern portions, the Antelope Valley and the Victor Valley, as the High Desert.


Native Mojave plants and animals



Photos from the Mojave Desert

See also

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04