Where Does The Sonoran Desert Lie?

By Nigel Amaya on April 13 2018 in World Facts

The saguaro cactus is one of the many plants native to the Sonoran Desert.
The saguaro cactus is one of the many plants native to the Sonoran Desert.

Where Is The Sonoran Desert?

The Sonoran Desert is a desert in the United States of America and Mexico. It is a huge desert, boasting more than 120,000 square miles of size and its vastness is exemplified by the fact that it traverses the south eastern part of California, the south western part of Arizona, and crosses over into Mexico into the states of Sonora and Baja. It is a very biologically diverse locality, boasting more than 100 different species of reptiles (such as Gila monsters, varieties of lizards, and desert tortoises), more than 60 mammals (such as mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, and collared peccaries), more than 250 birds (such as Gila woodpeckers, roadrunners, and Gambel’s quails) and over 2000 plants (that include the Arizona black nut, little-leaf palo verdes, and the saguaro cactus) that are native to the area. The Sonoran Desert is the hottest desert in North America. Sometimes the desert is divided into smaller divisions that include the Yuma desert and the Colorado Desert.

Economic and Tourist Activities

The most important towns in the Sonoran Desert include Tucson (population of 530,000) and Phoenix (population of 1.6 million) in Arizona, the resort town of Palm Springs (population of 48,000) in California, and Hermosillo (population of 810,000) in Mexico. The Sonoran Desert is an important tourist destination, especially during the winter because it has warm winters. Apart from the hotels in Tucson, Palm Springs, and Phoenix, some of the other important tourist destinations are the Saguaro National Park, Lavasu State Park, The Organ Pipe Cactus National Movement, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Popular tourist activities in the Sonoran Desert include hiking (especially the Camelback Mountain, McDowell Mountain Region Park, and the Pinnacle Peak Park), off-road desert tours, horse-back riding, water sports, and hot-air balloon riding.

Demographic Make-Up of the Sonoran Desert

Various anthropologist groups theorize that Hohokam cultural groups were the earliest settlers in the Sonoran Desert. However, at different periods in the 16th and 17th centuries, the area was visited by Spanish missionaries and explorers, and the movements of these groups led to conflict between them and the Indians who are native to the area. Ranching and mining take place in the Sonoran Desert, and, during the Second World War, several military bases were opened in the desert. Currently, the desert has several reservations for various Indian tribes such as Yaqui, Pima, Papago (Tohono O’odham) and Yuman groups.

Threats to the Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert has faced considerable damage from human activities. For instance, infrastructure and developments on riparian land has led to the already precarious water situation in the desert deteriorating, which has in turn led to the dying out of several species of animal life that live in the desert, and the endangering of others such as the pygmy owl, the Sonoran tiger salamander, and the southwestern willow flycatcher. Furthermore, utilities such as a road and a pipeline have been constructed in the desert, making the situation worse. However, organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity have involved themselves in efforts to save their area, for example by advocating for the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

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