Chihuahuan Desert: Home of all the national parks in Southwest

North America | | January 7, 2011 at 12:05 am




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Welcome to the second largest desert in North America! The Chihuahuan Desert occupies some parts of Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico of which the latter is the major holder. Its landscape is geologically complex, which is composed of a plethora of basins cut by the small mountain ranges, plateau forests, desert springs, low valleys, gorges, rivers, and deep canyons. With this feature in mind, World Wide Fund for Nature has regarded the Chihuahuan Desert as the most biologically diverse arid region on the planet.

As it is on a very high elevation as compared to the Sonoran, the desert witnesses  very mild temperatures with cool winters and extremely hot summers. Receiving rainfall less than 10 inches during the late summer monsoons, the desert is best visited in winters. Just similar to the Great Basin Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert is a shrub region, but boasts a relatively low biological diversity of perennial plants. However, wherever you go, you will find the most diverse scene of the indigenous plants and wildlife.

Flora and fauna

It is surprising to see that a desert can boast an amazing wildlife. So, get ready to spot desert Antelope, desert Fox, White-tailed Deer, Mule-deer, Javelina (Peccaries), Cottontail Rabbits, Jackrabbits, and the abundant Turkey Vulture. And yes, you will also come across a variety of legless creatures such as the Diamondback Rattlesnake, Coach-whip snake, and King snake. Also, there are spiders, lizards, beetles, centipedes, and millipedes.

And yes, it is very exciting to know how the indigenous desert plants thrive in such inhospitable area; so spot for Ocotillo, Sotol, Creosotebush, Candelia, Lechuguilla Agave and Cacti.

Attractions

For each backpacker, the region is best explored via a few of its ideal Jeep trails that also feature camping sites. Besides this, the Chihuahuan Desert is a genuine wonderfully zone for sightseeing, camping, river rafting, and mountain/canyon climbing. For some of these highlights, you need to explore the Rio Grande River, Big Bend Chisos Basin, and the national parks. Above all, it acts as a natural rejuvenator – thanks to its remoteness that takes you away from traffic, hustles, noise, and train sounds. At nights, you are amidst the spectacular setting below the stars, constellations, meteors, satellites, and the cloud-like Milky Way Galaxy. Yes, you can see them all!

Start your trip from the Chihuahuan Desert Visitor Center on the Highway opened from 9 to 5 and charging $5 per adult and $4 per child as entry fees. Experience the wonders of this arid region first-hand by following the ardent Modesta Canyon trail offering a 60-minute scenic hike as well as the picturesque Clayton’s Overlook hike featuring the stunning vistas of the diverse topography here. At the center, the tender greenhouse is the home of hundreds of Chihuahuan Desert cacti species, botanical garden, educational programs, and an interpretive zone of indoor as well as outdoor learning displays.

Visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park housing many caves of which the world’s deepest as well as famous is Lechuguilla cave – home of the pearls and other rare formations. Come here from spring to October for best experience. In the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the highlights are the flora, fauna, and canyon formations. And yes, one more captivating attraction is the Big Bend National Park – a wild, but spectacular preserve of the steep canyons, arid plants, and great activities.

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