California Colorado Desert


The Colorado Desert in California lies at a relatively low elevation, below 1,000 feet, with the lowest point of the desert floor at 275 feet below sea level at the Salton Sea.  This desert begins at the Mexican border in the south to the higher desert, the Mojave, in the north and from the Colorado River in the east to the Laguna Mountains of the Peninsular Ranges in the west.  Spanning a large distance, it is a small portion of the Sonoran Desert extending across the Southwest. Coachella and Imperial Valleys are actually a portion of the Colorado Desert, but are so heavily irrigated for farm use that you would hardly recognize them as desert lands. 

What distinguishes the lower Colorado Desert to the high Mojave Desert is the altitude and unique characteristics of the flora, animals, and bugs that survive in the region. Some are rare and even endangered, and can't be found  anywhere else on Earth.

California counties included in the desert region are: Imperial County, San Diego County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County. The highest peaks of the Peninsular Range reach elevations of nearly 10,000 feet, and the region is subject to earthquakes. 

Colorado Desert climate distinguishes it from other deserts with its higher  summer daytime temperatures than higher-elevation deserts and lack of freezing temperatures or frost. Two rainy seasons per year in the winter and late summer are common, unlike the Mojave desert, which has only a winter rain season. What affects the weather in the Colorado is the coast Peninsular Ranges of Southern California that block most eastern Pacific coastal air and rains. If the mountains were not there, the climate would be totally different, and at one time it was. 

Sonoran Desert is known for the Bighorn Sheep at Palm Canyon in Anza-Borrego State Park, photographed countless times. Creosote bush scrub,  yucca and cholla cactus, desert saltbush, sandy soil grasslands, and desert dunes, with pinyon pine and California juniper in the higher elevations, provide an eerie scene to photograph. 

Over half the desert plants grow and thrive seasonally during the rains. Tourists and photographers keep notifications of the spring wildflower blooms to see them and photograph them. The desert blooms are a site to behold. 

One most interesting plant or tree unique to the Colorado Desert is the  Joshua Tree seen in Joshua Tree National Park, and scattered throughout some small areas of  of central or northwestern Arizona. According to the National parks Service, it is only found in this part of the world.

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