The deserts of North America are vast and plentiful. To some, they appear to be the most unihabitable places one could imagine. With some of the most interesting landscapes on Earth, the deserts of North America have been used in movie sets to simulate life on undiscovered planets. To others, they are beautiful. They have a drawing magnetism for desert dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts. Those who go to the desert find out right away-there is more there than what meets the eye.
Deserts are an ecosystem that holds bountiful wildlife. Big game such as Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope, and Elk roam the landscape. Small game such as rabbits, prairie dogs, weasels, chipmunks, and mice carve out their niche in the desert. A multitude of bird species such as hawks, eagles, falcons, and doves float the desert skies. Lizards, toads, and snakes make their homes there. Coyotes, fox, and wolves can be seen roaming and hunting the desert.
A variety of foliage dots the desert landscape. Sagebrush is the most common plant. Milkvetch, Gilia, Aspen, Pine, Cedar, and Greasewood cluster areas of the desert floor. The brilliant colors of Castilleja, commonly known as the Indian Paintbrush, fluoresce against a backdrop of sand and stone. Many other wildflowers call the desert their home such as Lily, Chuparosa, and Globemallow. Many cacti species are present in the deserts of North America.
Canyons, valleys, plains, hills, dirt, rock, and sand make up the desert landscape. Rivers, creeks, streams, natural springs, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs supply much needed water to the flora and fauna of the area. A tapestry of sandstone colors (that any artist would envy) helps the desert scenery come alive. Wind is the predominant force that carves the unique rock features typically seen there.
Holding ancient treasures of times gone by, the desert is full of artifacts from prehistoric times. Evidence of North America’s earliest inhabitants can be found in the desert. Petroglyphs, arrowheads, pottery, and tools of ancient times can be found there. Many trails of pioneers wishing to go west cut through the deserts of North America. Like modern day travelers, they lost precious things along the way.
There is multitude of reasons why one would be drawn to recreate or live in the desert. For most, I believe, is the solitude. This is a wild place to lose oneself for a day or even a lifetime. Many already know of it’s secrets and mystique. If you’ve never been to the desert, I suggest you give it a try. There is more to the desert than what you may see on television, the internet, or in a magazine. You must experience it for yourself. I would be willing to wager that once you have spent a little time there, your impressions of this wild, beautiful, and desolate area will change.