Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sonoran hikes offer saguaros, lava badlands

Saguaro National Park, Sonoran Desert
A plethora of great day hiking trails crisscross the diverse Sonoran Desert, one of the United States’ four major deserts.

At 120,000-square miles in size, the Sonoran stretches from southern and central Arizona into California’s Coachella Valley (where Palm Springs is located) and into northern Mexico.

As with each of America’s deserts, the Sonoran offers varied terrain. It ranges from classic desert flatlands to rocky peaks and from sand dunes to lava badlands.

The desert’s eastern section is famous for the saguaro. Plants grow more sparsely in the western California section, known as the Colorado Desert, an ecological subunit that runs west of the Colorado Valley that receives far less rain than the eastern. Bighorn sheep make their home in the mountainous areas of the Colorado subunit.

Two easy to reach and interesting Sonoran Desert day hikes include:
g Freeman Homestead Trail (Arizona)
g Salton Sea volcanic area trails (California)

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.