Lovie M. Aguilar
April 05, 2012
Mojave Desert, what makes it unique?
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Named after the Mohave Native Americans[->0] it occupies roughly 54,000 square miles in a typical Basin and Range topography. The Mojave Desert is bound in part on the western end by the Tehachapi[->1] together with the San Gabriel[->2] and San Bernardino[->3] mountain ranges. The mountain boundaries are quite distinct since they have been created by the two largest faults in California: the San Andreas[->4] and the Garlock[->5]. Its northern and eastern boundaries are less distinct. One way to determine location is by observing the presence of Joshua Trees[->6]. The Mojave Desert receives less than 6 inches of rain a year and is generally between 3,000 and 6,000 feet in elevation. The Mojave Desert also contains the Mojave National Preserve[->7], Joshua Tree National Park[->8] and the lowest-hottest place in North America: Death Valley[->9], where the temperature can approach 120F in late July and early August. The Mojave, like all deserts in general, is known for its summer heat, however, there is wintertime cold. Snow[->10], 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 below freezing yet above 0F. 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. High winds, often above 50 miles per hour, are also a weather factor and occur frequently along the western end of the Mojave[->11], and are less common toward the east[->12]. There are two important wind events - the June Gloom winds push cooler air into the desert from Southern California and the Santa Ana winds blow hot air from the desert into the Los Angeles basin. Wind farms have been set up to generate power from these winds. The Mojave Desert contains a number of ghost towns[->13]. The most well known of these being the silver-mining town of Calico[->14], California. Some of them are of the more modern variety created when Route 66[->15] was abandoned in favor of the Interstates[->16]. 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 temperature ever recorded in the region located along Interstate 15[->17] in Baker[->18], California. The Mojave River[->19] is an important source of water in this arid land. A part of the Colorado River[->20] traverses its far eastern portion. The Mojave Desert is crossed by major highways Interstate 15[->21], Interstate 40[->22], US Highway 395[->23] and US Highway 190[->24]. Some of the cities in the Mojave Desert include Victorville[->25], Barstow[->26], Palmdale[->27], Ridgecrest[->28], and Needles[->29], California. Las Vegas, Nevada is the Mojave's largest city and metropolitan area.
Regionally, the southwest portions, the Antelope Valley[->30], the Victor Valley[->31], the Lucerne Valley[->32] and the Yucca Valley[->33] / Twenty-nine Palms[->34] areas are referred to as the High Desert. In John Van Dyke’s 1901 natural history classic, “The Desert”, he wrote, “The deserts are the breathing spaces of the West, and they should be preserved forever.”
The Mojave Desert offers a blend of splendor and solitude not found anywhere else in the country. The desert’s austere beauty and remoteness are its biggest assets, offering real economic value to current and future generations. Camping, hiking, rock climbing, bird-watching and other recreational activities contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to local and regional economies. Homes located near open spaces within the desert enjoy premium real estate values. The military makes use of the desert’s wide-open...
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