Last Updated on October 27, 2022

Mexico is one of the countries with most deserts in the entire world. As a matter of fact, more than 60% of the territory of the country of Mexico is located in the area corresponding to the belt in which the deserts of the world are distributed, which is the reason why great part of the country is arid.

The most important desert in Mexico is the Chihuahuan desert, which spans six Mexican states as well as three US states.

Peñoles rock formation. Jiménez, Chihuaha, Mexico.
Peñoles, Chihuahan Desert. Near Jiménez, Chihuaha, Mexico.

Chihuahua Desert

The Mexican Chihuahuan desert is the largest desert in North America. It is the border between the United States and Mexico, also divided between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental. It also includes the states of New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, all of them on the United States side, and on the Mexican side, the states of Chihuahua, Sonora, Durango, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas.

The temperature is very variable, since throughout the day it can reach more than 40 degrees, but at nightfall or in the winter season, the temperature drops extremely low and big storms originate.

In spite of what you may believe, in the more than 600 thousand square kilometers of Chihuahua Desert there is great animal and plant life: there are more than 400 species living in its interior, some of them only found here. It is also important to know that it is an area rich in lakes, rivers and streams.

In its waters live many marine species that due to climate change, the water crisis, as well as other equally serious issues, are in danger of extinction or low growth.

Samalayuca Dunes. Chihuhuan Desert, Mexico.
Samalayuca Dunes. Chihuhuan Desert, Mexico.

The iconic Samalayuca dunes are a popular travel destination within the Chihuahuan Desert. They are visited for recreational activities and tours, such as sandboarding, driving off-road cars and desert camping.

Mexican states crossed: Chihuahua, Sonora, Durango, Coahuila, San Luis de Potosi and Zacatecas.


Mexican Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert also encompasses both the United States and Mexico, another of the best known deserts in existence today. It is characterized for being one of the hottest in the world, besides having a great ecosystem in its interior.

The Sonoran Desert comprises several sub-eco regions in both Mexico and the United States, namely the Gran Desierto de Altar (Altar Grand Desert), the Colorado Desert, the Lechuguilla Desert, the Tule Desert and the Yuma Desert.

Mexican states crossed: Sonora and Baja California


El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve

Altar Desert

The Altar Desert is one of the major regions of the Sonoran desert, and one of the most biodiverse deserts in the world. Its great attraction lies in the dunes that make it up, as they have very curious shapes that resemble stars. Since 2016 it has been considered a Biosphere Reserve together with the dormant volcanic crater “El Pinacate”.

The area, known as El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site hosting over 500 species of plants, 200 species of brids and 40 of mammals, reptiles and fish each, many of which are vulnerable endemic species.

Mexican states crossed: Sonora


Baja California Desert, Mexico

Baja California Desert

The Baja California Desert has been inhabited by several indigenous tribes despite being one of the most desert areas known. Within this area you can find the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve.

Mexican states crossed: Baja California


Read also: Sandboarding in Mexico


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