Sonoran Desert, Southern Arizona, USA (with Map & Photos)

The Sonoran Desert (sometimes also called the Gila Desert after the Gila River) is a North American desert. Politically it is divided between the United States and Mexico, covering large parts of Arizona and California, as well as the Mexican state of Sonora, for which it is named. It is one of the hottest and largest deserts in the world, covering an area of ​​311,000 km².

Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert

Geographic location

The Sonoran Desert is part of the immense North American corridor of arid ecosystems that extends from southeastern Washington state, in the USA, to the state of Hidalgo in the central highlands of Mexico, and from central Texas to the coasts of the Ocean. Pacific in the peninsula of Baja California. This arid corridor, which covers almost a million square kilometers, is divided into four great deserts:

  • The Great Basin.
  • The Mojave Desert.
  • The Sonoran Desert.
  • The Chihuahuan Desert.

The Greater Chihuahuan Desert consists of a series of lowlands, circling the Gulf of California, or Sea of ​​Cortez. Although it is a single entity in the United States, as it enters Mexico it forks into a region of continental arid lands, known as the Sonoran Desert in the strictest sense, and a strip of coastal deserts that runs along the Baja California peninsula. and to which it is called Desert of Baja California.

Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert

This complex Sonoran-Baja California desert, as we define it here, encompasses 101,291 km 2 of the Baja California Desert and 223,009 km 2 of the true Sonoran Desert. In total, 29% of this wilderness area (93,665 km2) is in the United States, with the remaining 71% (230,635 km2) in Mexico. We estimate that up to 80% of the wilderness area remains intact



The mountains of the Sonoran desert do not present a high altitude compared to those of the surrounding areas; the average is about 305 meters. The most prominent mountain ranges are the Chocolate and Chuckwalla Mountains in California, the Kofa and Harquahala Mountains in Arizona, and the Sierra del Pinacate in Mexico.

Sonoran Desert Map