The Mojave Desert is a a vast desert in eastern California and far western Arizona. The desert stretches out in a vast swath of dry mountains and valleys north of the San Gabriel mountains and San Bernadino mountains and east of the Sierras. The area is filled with dry lakebeds, joshua trees, and a dry river called the Mojave River. Death Valley is located here, the lowest and hottest place in North America. Death Valley once recorded a temperature of 134 degrees, only a few degrees cooler than the hottest ever recorded in the Sahara. In the winter the Mojave is rather cold; the mountains and high valleys even get snow. In the summer, obviously, it is brutally hot. In the spring and fall it is very windy. The desert is a land of extremes, extremely harsh if you're unprepared. It is also extremely beautiful in its stark way. The first time you see the desert, you will probably think it is dead and ugly. But go there a few times and you will begin to notice things.. the flit of a lizard on a rock, the intricate wind-crafted patterns in a sand dune, the soft flicker of lightning on the horizon. In the afternoon in the summer, thunderstorms often form, more lightning than rain. Once the sun sets, the horizons flicker with light. I encourage anyone who gets the chance to spend time in the desert.. not lancaster but in the real desert, where you cant see a single man-made light. It's completely amazing... and will totally change your perspective. You can't feel like the most important thing in the universe if you spend any time in the desert...

The transition from the hot Sonoran Desert to the cooler and higher Great Basin is called the Mojave Desert. This arid region of southeastern California and portions of Nevada, Arizona and Utah, occupies more than 25,000 square miles. On the northwestern boundary it extends from the Sierra Nevada range to the Colorado Plateau in the east; it abuts the San Gabriel-San Bernadino Mountains in the southwest.

Average annual precipitation: less than 5 inches, almost all of which arrives in winter. The Mojave has a mountain-and-basin topography with sparse vegetation. Sand and gravel basins drain to central salt flats from which borax, potash and salt are extracted. Silver, tungsten, gold and iron deposits are also worked.

The Mojave Desert hosts about 200 endemic plant species found in neither of the adjacent deserts. Cacti are usually restricted to the coarse soils of bajadas. Mojave Yucca and, at higher elevations Desert Spanish Bayonet, a narrow-leafed yucca, are prominent. Creosote Bush, Shadscale, Big Sagebrush, Bladder-sage, bursages and Blackbush are common shrubs of the Mojave Desert. Occasional Catclaws grow along arroyos. Unlike the Sonoran Desert, trees are few, both in numbers and diversity, with the exception is the Joshua tree, occuring only at higher elevations in this desert and only in this desert.

How to tell if when you're in the Mojave if you're an ignorant city person like myself:
If you're in the area bordered on the south by Interstate 10 in California, on the west by California's U.S. Route 395, on the North by U.S. Route 50 in Nevada, and on the east by Interstate 15, you're in the Mojave.


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