The Americas are a vast region, covering many ecosystems and comprising of many flora and fauna… some found nowhere else in the world. From the northernmost point of the United States, to the southernmost of South America, we delve in to what is found in between these two points to bring you 10 of the must-visit deserts throughout the region.
Over time, nature has taken its course, meaning some cities have had no choice but to be abandoned or moved somewhere else. There is no telling what will happen in the future, so add these natural wonders to your bucket list and check them out before it’s too late!
10 Mojave Desert
First off, no, this desert is not named after the newest version of Apple software. Now that's sorted, let's get into it. Covering 4 U.S. states, the Mojave Desert is home to many natural wonders, including the Valley of Fire, Death Valley and many little towns along the way.
Mainly covering south-east California and south Nevada, it also runs through north-west Arizona and south-west Utah; so, long story short, it wouldn’t be hard to miss! Commonly known as a ‘high desert,’ the Mojave Desert also comes in at over 280 feet below sea level; one of only very few in the world. The desert is also well-known for the presence of Joshua trees, a protected species and one that makes the Mojave really come into its own.
9 Sonoran Desert
Found in the south-west of the USA; California and Arizona, and into Mexico, the Sonoran Desert offers breathtaking, panoramic views wherever you look. This is because the Sonoran is full of native flora and fauna, for example, the Organ Pipe and Saguaro species of cacti, set against a backdrop of misty mountains.
What’s more, it's very easy to access the desert, with the major cities of Phoenix and Tucson right in the middle. National Parks such as Joshua Tree National Park and Kofa Wildlife Refuge can also be found here. Oh, and year round sun makes this place (and the cities in it) perfect for a warm winter escape!
8 Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, is a completely different kind of desert. Why? Because it is actually made up of the world's largest salt flat. Covering a staggering 4,600 square miles, and set at an altitude of over 11,000 feet, it truly is one of a kind.
Once a prehistoric desert and lake known as Lago Minchin, it dried and is now simply magnificent. We can only thank Mother Nature and Father Time for producing something as special as the Salar de Uyuni. The best way to get around this ginormous masterpiece is on a guided 4-wheel drive tour.
7 Chihuahuan Desert
Covering over 175,000 square miles, the Chihuahuan Desert is one of the largest deserts in North America. Here, you can find many native flora and fauna, including the Gray Fox and Arizona Rainbow Cactus.
The views from the Chihuahuan Desert are nothing short of stunning. If you find yourself here, make sure you head to the White Sands National Monument located in New Mexico, to see this spectacular display for yourself.
6 Patagonian Desert
Being in the world’s biggest 5 deserts is no mean feat, but the Patagonian Desert has found itself in this category. Covering over a staggering 418,000 square miles, this desert is one of the very few around the world that is suitable for human habitation, as the waves from the Atlantic Ocean crash on the east, so the hot weather is easily countered by a quick dip in the sea!
Featuring a highly-varied landscape, from flat plains to canyons and valleys, there are many animals and plants that call different areas of Patagonia home.
5 Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is one of Mother Nature’s best creations. It is surprising to think that not only is it the driest desert in the world, it is also the driest place on earth. Lining the Pacific Coast and splitting the South American countries of Peru and Chile, some sections of the Atacama Desert has actually never recorded even one drop of rain since records began.
Nevertheless, more than 1 million people, scattered throughout, call Atacama home. This desert should be on your bucket list because it offers some of the best natural night-time light shows on the planet and you can be sure that you’ll stay dry!
4 Colorado Plateau
The Colorado Plateau is a physiographic area covering 130,000 square miles, making up the Wastach Mountains, Uinta Mountains, and the famous Rockies.
Some may be unaware that the Grand Canyon is to the south-west of the Colorado Plateau, and actually makes up part of the iconic canyon. Featuring high forests, reefs, natural bridges, and 9 natural parks, it is often a forgotten contribution to the Northern American desert scene.
3 Monte Desert
The Monte Desert is only small compared to its siblings throughout North and South America, but it offers some of the best sights. It can be found between the Patagonian and Atacama Deserts in Argentina.
Comprised of volcanic residue, towering mountains and various salt lakes, and two rivers (Rio Colorado and Rio Desaguero), the Monte has a little bit of everything to keep everyone happy. If you are taking your family there, you will be happy to know that this desert has a more diverse range of wildlife than its surrounding counterparts.
2 Great Basin Desert
One of the largest deserts in the United States, the Great Basin Desert covers 190,000 square miles. As with most deserts in the middle of nowhere of high altitude, there are hot, steamy summers and cold, frosty winters.
Encompassing 5 states; California, Arizona, Oregon, Utah and Idaho, the Great Basin is usually dry all year round, making it a great destination for families or couples to camp and be one with nature. If you do find yourself here, find a Bristlecone Pine Tree. Why? Well, put simply, the species is over 5,000 years old.
1 North American Desert
How fitting to end this list of must-visit deserts in the Americas with the North American Desert. It is an immense natural wonder, made up of four of the major deserts in the US; Great Basin, Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan Deserts.
There is not much in this desert, but there is one very good selling point… it is where four of the largest deserts in the world meet. So, now the challenge is for you to go out there and find the meeting point (if there is one)!