The Mojave Desert is the definitive desert of the American southwest, and known for its amazingly diverse and beautiful regions. Among these are Red Rock Canyon, the Devil’s Playground and the world famous Death Valley, the lowest and hottest location in the United States. Collectively there are few (if any) deserts in the world that draw as many visitors as the parks and recreation areas of the Mojave.
Despite the relative inhospitability of the Mojave area, scattered Native American tribes have lived in the area for thousands of years. The area was largely ignored by western explorers and settlers until the mid-19th century, when the Gold Rush began to bring prospectors through the territory. Death Valley beame the desert’s first national park in 1933, and the damming of the Colorado River led to the creation of Lake Meade in 1936. The area has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
The Mojave Desert is not huge as major deserts go, but is interconnected with several other deserts including the Sonoran to the south. Major features of the desert are the Colorado River (the area’s primary waterway), Lake Meade, the Devil’s Playground with its salt flats, the various stunning rock formations at Red Rock Canyon, Red Cliffs and elsewhere, fields of Joshua Trees and Death Valley with its enigmatic sailing stones.
The Mojave Desert is a playground for desert lovers, and thanks to its proximity to the densely populated cities of Southern California as well as Las Vegas, the area gets millions of visitors every year. There are over a dozen national and state parks and recreation areas scattered throughout the Mojave, each with a different experience. Web: www.nps.gov/deva (Death Valley official website), www.nps.gov/jotr (Joshua Tree official website), www.nps.gov/moja (Mojave National Preserve official website).