Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Navigating the Major Deserts of Mexico: Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert


Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert of North America. It is located between the US and Mexico border, taking up a collective area of about 200,000 square miles. In Mexico, this desert takes up parts of the Mexican Plateau, and is bound on the west by the Sierra Madre Occidental, and on the east by the Sierra Madre Oriental. These two mountain ranges block out moisture from their respective areas, which is how the Chihuahuan Desert got to be so arid. Another effect of its isolation is that a number of endemic plants and animals live within its area, many of which are now endangered.

This desert region mainly consists of basins that are broken up by some small mountain ranges. Some cities within the Chihuahuan Desert include Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua; the city of Monterrey is located on its border. According to scientists, it could be the most biologically diverse desert in the world. Some plants that grow around this desert include agave, peyote, yucca, prickly pear and mesquite. The general climate of this desert is characterized by extreme heat during the daytime and intense cold at night.


Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert goes through parts of the US states of California and Arizona, and then down through the northwestern Mexican states of Baja California, Baja California Sur and Sonora. It is a large, very hot desert. The Sonoran Desert is unique because it gets a substantial amount of rainfall compared to other arid places.

In the section of the Sonoran Desert that is actually in the region of Sonora, Mexico, the summer season is particularly rainy, followed by dry winters. This region is full of succulent cacti. In Baja California, the Sonoran Desert is often called the Vizcaino Desert. The winters are cool and a bit moist, but because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the summers do not get too hot. In this region, there is an abundance of plants like agave, yuccas and assorted cacti.


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