Bring some water along and some shade for your head as we explore nine deserts that will make your mouth water.
1. Monument Valley Buttes, Arizona
When you think of the classic Western film, what images come to mind? You may be thinking of the lone cowboy with the squint in one eye and the clusters of hills out in a desert. Well, you didn’t know it, but you were probably thinking of the iconic buttes of Monument Valley, particularly the “mittens”, which got its debut in the movie, Stagecoach.
2. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
In northern Arizona on Navajo land lies Antelope Canyon, famous for the smoothed out sandstone from the rain waters eroding its surface, forming the famous striations that cover the canyon’s walls.
3. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Named after the Joshua tree which populates the area, the park is located in Mojave Desert in the southeastern part of California. The tree itself was named by Mormon settlers in the 1850s who upon seeing the uplifted branches of the tree likened it to Joshua from the Bible who lifted his arms up to the sky in giving prayer. For more water, perhaps?
4. Canyon Lands National Park, Utah
Almost half a million visitors come to Canyon Lands every year. Two prominent rivers cut through this area: The Green River and The Colorado River. With hundreds of tributaries that branch out and carve into the rock, the park is full of hidden out-of-the-way waterfalls for the intrepid tourist.
5. Sonoran Desert, Arizona
The saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert, is the tortoise of the plant world and can live up to 100 years old. They can grow from 40-60 feet tall which is the equivalent of the height of 4 to 6 stories of an apartment building. Forget about the tortoise analogy, the saguaro is the King Kong of the plant world!
6. Four Peaks Mountain, Arizona
As part of the Mazatzal Mountain range, the Four Peaks stands prominently east Phoenix. The mountain has a mine that contains deposits of world-class amethyst.
7. White Sands Nation Monument, New Mexico
The gypsum crystals give the sand dunes the white color. The dune field is considered to be the largest on Earth. The site was once considered to be designated as a World Heritage Site, but because of the potential for international protest of the military installations around the area, a local law was enacted to make it illegal for the White Sands to be a World Heritage Site.
8. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
If a hot, dry climate is your idea of a great holiday, then Death Valley National Park could be the place of your dreams with temperatures hitting an average of 115 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Even in this harsh climate, some fauna and flora continue to call it home, including the creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, whose ancestors enjoyed a much wetter climate.
9. Sossusvlei in Namib Desert, Namibia
Located in the southern coast of Africa, the Sossusvlei part of the Namib Desert of Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia, is famous for its characteristic contrast between the iron-enriched sand dunes that give off the reddish tint and the white of the clay pan from the high concentrations of salt.