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Delight in the Diversity of Deserts

52 Week Adventure Challenge

01.16.17

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Delight in the Diversity of Deserts

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  • Scotty's Castle.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Sunset colors over the desert landscape at the Trona Pinnacles.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The Devils Golf Course.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • A night shot of Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Golden Canyon.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Arches Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • California fan palms (Washingtonia filifera) in the Fortynine Palms Oasis.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Views from the Cap Rock Nature Trail.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • An area of the Narrows called "Wall Street." - Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Emerald Pools.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Lower Subway.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Bryce Canyon and Ampthitheater from Inspiration Point.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The Fairyland Loop provides an endless array of dramatic views.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Narrow trail up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Bryce Canyon Rim Trail.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Alvord Hot Springs.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Alvord Desert and Steens Mountain (9,734 ft).- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The remarkable erosion pattern at The Wave is the result of eolian (wind) cross bedding in the sandstone.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Sunrise on Reflection Canyon.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Druid Arch, one of the most impressive arches in Utah. Remote, massive, and beefy; just a few words that describe this amazing rock feature.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The False Kiva has become an iconic site of the American Southwest.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The Corona Arch and a clear night sky.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Valley of the Goblins.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Kyle Hot Springs.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Trego Hot Springs.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The home and monument of Chief Rolling Thunder Mountain.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Driving White Mounds Road in Valley of Fire is like visiting another planet!- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The Fire Wave.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Saguaro National Park is a great place to get an introduction to the Sonoran Desert.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The petroglyphs at Signal Hill are very well preserved and easy to reach.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • Cholla cactus and the sunset light on the mountains.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The trail up Arch Canyon is well-marked and a gentle grade.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
  • The abandoned Victoria Mine.- Delight in the Diversity of Deserts
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Team

Here we are on week three of our #52AdventureChallenge, and while we’ve maintained a wintry theme with our first installments, this week we’re changing it up. Deserts are the hottest and driest places on the planet, but not every desert is like the Atacama or Sahara.

There are myriad ways to classify a desert, but the simplest system figures into account the amount of precipitation that a given area gets. By precipitation, an arid desert receives less than eight inches of precipitation annually, while semiarid deserts receive eight to 20 inches. But precipitation is not the limiting factor in what defines a desert. Other factors include the number of days receiving precipitation, temperature, and humidity. Sometimes deserts are recognized by the wildlife adapted to dry desert climates.

The range of variation in desert types is broad. The classic hot desert, like the Sahara, occurs at equatorial latitudes. Cold deserts occur at higher latitudes, like those in the interior West. Polar deserts occur at the poles, where the cold air carries little moisture. For example, the thickest ice is the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, but the world’s coldest desert is along its border. The McMurdo Dry Valleys off of McMurdo Sound average less than 4 inches of precipitation per year—we’re guessing snow—with a mean annual temperature of -4 degrees. The Wright and Taylor valleys are ice-free, thanks to the surrounding mountains, and katabatic winds, cold air pulled earthward by the force of gravity at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, which evaporate any wayward ice or snow. Indeed, the Antarctic could be considered the world’s largest desert because the continent receives only 2 inches of precipitation on average per year.

The deserts of the western U.S. contain one of the hottest places in the world. Furnace Creek in Death Valley recorded one of the highest land temperatures in history at 134 degrees in 1914. Death Valley is one part of four true deserts in North America, the Great Basin, Sonoran, Mojave, and Chihuahuan deserts. The Great Basin is the largest desert in the U.S. at 190,000 square miles. Amid the dunes and dry river beds are uncountable desert adventures. Here are some of our favorites!

The Great Basin

Death Valley National Park:

Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon:

The Nevada Basin

Alvord Desert and the Alvord Desert Hot Springs

The Sonoran Desert

Joshua Tree National Park:

Organ Pipe National Monument:

Saquaro National Park

Colorado Plateau

Canyonlands National Park

Valley of Fire State Park

#52AdventureChallenge

We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!

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