Much cooler and higher than the neighboring Great Basin Desert to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south, the Mojave Desert is considered a rain shadow area, which occurs when an area of land is forced to become a desert due to mountains that block out rain that would otherwise allow most plants to grow. The Mojave Desert spans across a large region of southeastern California and through portions of Nevada, Arizona and Utah. In total, it encompasses more than 25,000 square miles of land. 
 
The most notable areas by name are the Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks. The area also includes Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Mojave National Preserve, meaning 
the Mojave Desert is home to an array of stunning, protected areas. The desert sits between 3,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation, much higher than the nearby Sonoran Desert. The elevation keeps temperatures slightly cooler. Visitors are primarily drawn to the area for natural recreation and to see the nearly 200 endemic plant species that only exist in the Mojave. 

Practical Info

While mostly sparsely populated land, the Mojave Desert is home to a few larger cities, including Las Vegas. Some of the most popular tourist attractions—in addition to the national parks—include the Hoover Dam, the world's tallest thermometer in Baker, Calif., and the Kelso 
Dunes. When traveling in the desert, always make sure to carry plenty of water and sunscreen. 

Tours & Tickets

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Palm Springs Wildlands Preserve Nature Tour

This nature tour from Palm Desert takes you on a scenic journey through Southern California’s rich, diverse scenery. Traveling from the Colorado Desert to the ...  Read more

Location: Palm Springs, California
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $98.99

The Earthquake Canyon Bike Express

4.5 star rating: Recommended 12 Reviews

Embark on a scenic 20-mile (32-km) bike tour through Palm Desert! Descending through the heart of the San Andreas Fault zone between the Colorado Desert and ...  Read more

Location: Palm Springs, California
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $94.99

Joshua Tree National Park Jeep Adventure

4.5 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

Joshua Tree National Park Adventure - This tour takes you to one of the nation's most outstanding wilderness treasures, Joshua Tree National Park you will use ...  Read more

Location: Palm Springs, California
Duration: 4 - 5 hours

From USD $158.99

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