Deserts are defined by dry weather conditions and low precipitation. They can be found throughout the world, and often represent some of the last remaining wilderness areas.
Deserts are generally considered to be regions that receive less than 10 in (250 mm) of rain per year. Therefore, trees are rarely found in deserts (although there are exceptions, like the Joshua trees of Joshua Tree National Park). Grasses can be found in some deserts, especially high-elevation deserts, but are not common in low-lying deserts.
The stereotypical desert is hot, but not all deserts are. Polar regions, despite the snow that covers these areas, are often very dry; the same is the case with Mongolia and China's desert regions. Mountain deserts are often cold too. Even stereotypical hot deserts can get cold at night due to the lack of moisture in the air.
- 1 Kalahari Desert. It's in the southern part of the continent.
- 2 Sahara. Dominates the northern part of Africa.
The continent is considered a desert, with minimal rainfall along coastal regions and even less in the interior.
- 3 Arabian Desert.
- 4 Gobi desert. Known for being cold.
- 5 Judaean Desert. Also see Hiking in the Judaean Desert.
- 6 Negev.
Australia as a landmass is mostly made up of deserts or semi-deserts, with relatively narrow fertile areas along coastal areas and the south west region. The largest individual desert is the 7 Great Victoria Desert.
- 8 Chihuahuan Desert (includes the White Sands) (Southwestern United States).
- 9 Death Valley National Park (Southeastern California). This national park is the location of North America's lowest point, Badwater. Death Valley is also among the hottest locations on Earth.
- The 10 Mojave Desert merges into the Baja Californian desert at its southern extent.
- 11 Sonoran Desert (Southwestern United States).
- 12 White Sands National Monument (Southwestern United States).
Even if water is not a severe threat to your life, you can still get dehydrated. Only go hiking in deserts during the wintertime unless you're in a cold desert like the Gobi, since dehydration (especially severe cases) may not kill you, but they are not healthy either.
- Main article: Arid region safety
The most obvious risk is not getting enough water—always bring extra. Another problem is getting lost or stuck, as deserts are sparsely populated and help may be hard to find. See Arid region safety for details.
Despite the inhospitable environment, deserts are home to many types of dangerous animals, including venomous snakes and scorpions.
Deserts are rarely well-policed, and can be home to criminal or terrorist groups. Always check the relevant travel advisories.
In the heat of the day, travelers can experience mirages that give the illusion of water (or other things). These can be dangerous if the traveler pursue the mirage, wasting precious energy and remaining water.
Even the hottest of deserts can become extremely cold at night. Hyperthermia is a real risk without warm clothing.