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5 Things You Need to Know About the Sonoran Desert in Arizona



Have you ever been to the extraordinary Sonoran Desert in Arizona?

Yes? Good for you. The adventure must have been something for the books! No? That’s not bad, too. It means you have enough time to learn about the untrammeled desert landscape. Whether you’re planning to venture on an expedition or just curious about the place, here are 5 things you need to know about the Sonoran Desert in Arizona:

1. It covers a large part of the Southwestern United States

Sonoran Desert
Source: One evening in the Sonoran Desert | Saija Lehtonen

The 260,000 square kilometer-Sonoran Desert lies in the lands of Arizona, California, and of Northwestern Mexico in Sonora, including Baja California, and Baja California Sur.

2. It is the hottest of all the North American deserts

The Sonoran is really a hot desert. We can’t stress that enough. The summer air temperatures exceed 40°C and oftentimes reach 48°C.

Climate Info:
Hottest Month: July
Coldest Month: December
Wettest Month: February
Windiest Month: July

3. It has a functioning desert ecosystem

Sonoran Desert
Source: Sonoran Desert | Sandee Dusbiber

This is also the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts. You can find large saguaro cactus forest communities and it boasts an extraordinary range of wildlife species.

In fact, there are close to 3,500 species of plants, 1,000 species of bees, and 500 species of birds. It is said that the elevation, mountain ranges, and rainfall patterns are keys to the incredible biodiversity.

What can you find in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona?
Gila woodpecker
Leaf-nosed bat
Eastern collared lizard
Pallid bat
Desert Centipede
Desert Tortoise
Diamondback Rattlesnake
Buckhorn Cholla
Desert Marigold
Fishhook Barrel Cactus

and more.

There’s more than one way to explore this majestic desert as well as its wildlife. You can hike, join an off-road desert tour, do horseback riding, ride a hot air balloon, or even do water sports. The question is, what is your pick?

4. It rivals the Saguaro National Park

If you’re familiar with both the Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, you’ll find a striking similarity in their plant communities. Why? You can also find an abundance of the saguaro cactus plant in this desert. The saguaro cactus is one of the defining plants of the desert due to its large and tree-like columnar cacti. It develops branches or arms as they age, although some never really grow arms. Still, it is truly a sight to behold.

Note: Never transplant a saguaro plant without getting the proper license. You can be fined $10,000 since you’ll be violating Arizona’s Protected Plants Law.

5. It is home to the Desert Ironwood

Ironwood is “Palo Fierro” in Spanish, and this tree grows only in the Sonoran Desert. The Ironwood is the shelter and creates a pea pod that serves as the food for many animals. It can grow up to 30 feet high and can live up to 1,500 years!

Legends say that having Desert Ironwood carvings will bring good fortune and long life. This is why the high demand for art is causing many illegal loggers to harvest the trees, thus, harming the delicate ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert.

We know what you’re thinking: What a beautiful place for outdoor enthusiasts.