Mojave Geography

Mojave Desert is the driest desert in North America. It is located in the southwestern United States, primarily within southeastern California and southern Nevada, and it occupies a total of 47,877 sq mi. Very small areas also extend into Utah and Arizona. Its boundaries are generally noted by the presence of Joshua trees, which are native only to the Mojave Desert and are considered an indicator species, and it is believed to support an additional 1,750 to 2,000 species of plants. The central part of the desert is sparsely populated, while its peripheries support large communities such as San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Lancaster, Mojave, Palmdale, Victorville, and St. George.

The Mojave Desert is bordered by the Great Basin Desert to its north[8] and the Sonoran Desert to its south and east. Topographical boundaries include the Tehachapi Mountains to the west, and the San Gabriel Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains to the south. The mountain boundaries are distinct because they are outlined by the two largest faults in California – the San Andreas and Garlock faults. The Mojave Desert displays typical basin and range topography. Higher elevations above 2,000 ft) in the Mojave are commonly referred to as the High Desert; however, Death Valley is the lowest elevation in North America at 280 ft. below sea level and is one of the Mojave Desert’s more notorious places. It occupies less than 50,000 sq mi. making it the smallest of the North American deserts.

The Mojave Desert is often referred to as the “high desert”, in contrast to the “low desert”, the Sonoran Desert to the south. However, the Mojave Desert is generally lower than the Great Basin Desert to the north. The spelling Mojave originates from the Spanish language while the spelling Mohave comes from modern English. Both are used today, although the Mojave Tribal Nation officially uses the spelling Mojave; the word is a shortened form of Hamakhaave, their endonym in their native language, which means ‘beside the water’.

What to See and Do in Mojave.

The best stuff is in the Mojave Desert is the Mojave National Preserve. Here’s Brochures from the National Park Service.  But please, check out the Essential Desert Information Page first.






Mojave National Preserve Brochures

(PDF, 677 KB)

Cinder Cones, Lava Flows, and Lava Tube
(PDF, 1,488 KB)

Hole-in-the-Wall Area Trails
(PDF, 844 KB)

Hunting: Seasons and Trip Planning
(PDF, 2045 KB)

Kelso Depot Visitor Center
(PDF, 208 KB)

Guia en Espanol
(PDF, 204 KB)

Guide en Francais
(PDF, 239 KB)

Guida in Italiano
(PDF, 386 KB)

Informationen auf Deutsch
(PDF, 237 KB)