Situated mainly in south eastern California, the Mojave Desert also reaches parts of southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona in the United States. It is the driest and smallest of all North American deserts. Although sparsely inhabited, the area is a popular tourist destination largely due to the nearby gambling world of Las Vegas. But away from the bright lights, visitors can enjoy the beautiful natural scenery by visiting four major protected areas that have largely escaped development: Death Valley National Park, Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.
The 64,750 km2 (25,000 sq mi) desert features the now-iconic Joshua trees as well as providing habitats for over 2,500 species of plants and animals. Scenery is remarkable, from mountain ranges to valleys, canyons, high mesas and plateaus, a unique geological display found nowhere else in the world.
The desert experiences extremes of temperature, with summer highs of over 38°C (100°F) and lows of -18°C (0°F) in winter at high altitudes. The humidity is below 40% for most of the year. There is plenty to do in the desert with almost endless possibilities for hiking and trekking, three lakes providing water sports and even the opportunity to witness the world’s tallest thermometer at 41 m (~134 ft) high. For a peaceful walk to drink in the beautiful atmosphere, the desert includes a California State Park, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve and the magnificent structure of the Hoover Dam.