Stay full on gas! As with any desert, there are limited stops. Better safe than sorry.
The red rock Mojave Desert stretches endlessly over parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Its boundaries are sometimes defined in a pleasingly arcane way, by the presence of Joshua trees, also known as Yucca brevifolia, which are considered an indicator species for the desert. In spite of the trees, the Mojave Desert is renowned for being the driest of the North American deserts — not somewhere you want to get lost!
In many ways, the Mojave gives you what you would expect from a desert: dusty, barren landscapes, tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, and scorching heat. However, it also possesses a singular, remote beauty. The softly undulating sand dunes, cracked mountains and spiky Joshua trees are home to some of America’s most atmospheric attractions.
The roads through the desert are peppered with nostalgia: just admire the buzzing neon signs, old motels, rail stations and classic diners. California’s gold rush also left a legacy of now abandoned ghost towns, and thousands of years earlier the inhabitants left ancient rock carvings across the desert. It all adds to a rather spooky, timeless feel you can’t find anywhere else.
Perhaps the most notorious part of the Mojave Desert is Death Valley. The very name suggests somewhere biblical — and more like Hell than Heaven. It’s certainly hot as hell, holding the US records for the highest temperature, and it’s actually 282 feet below sea level as well. But if it is Hell, it’s a beautiful one, with shifting dunes, sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters, palm-shaded oases and its own world of very hardy endemic wildlife.
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