DesertUSA is a guide to the American Southwest. Our stories feature topics ranging from rockhounding and boating to desert parks and unique points of interest.  DesertUSA’s content includes in depth information about the natural history of the desert regions of the United States.

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Chloride, AZ

The Saguaro Cactus

Icon of the Southwest

The saguaro often begins life in the shelter of a “nurse” tree or shrub which can provide a shaded, moist habitat for the germination of life. The saguaro grows very slowly — perhaps an inch a year — but to a great height, 15 to 50 feet. The largest plants, with more than five arms, are estimated to be 200 years old. Read more…

Pat Garrett

Kit Carson & the Santa Fe Trail

Quintessential Mountain Man

Kit Carson, born in Kentucky on Christmas Eve, 1809, grew up in Franklin, Missouri, fired by the tales of those who had traveled the Santa Fe Trail. An impoverished and illiterate teenager, he took up an apprenticeship with a saddle maker. Two years later, drawn by the siren call of the West, he decided he would leave his apprenticeship.  Read more…

Rainbow Basin

Slot Canyon in Burro Wash

Capitol Reef National Park

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Sure, I was expecting some narrows, but the name Burro Wash seemed fairly tame. It was early May in Capitol Reef National Park, and the park rangers had recommended this option for a slot canyon hike. As the forecast was sunny and clear for the next few days, there was no real risk of flash flooding, which could be fatal in canyon country. I had a small NPS map and basic accompanying instructions, but the route was straightforward to find. Soon enough, there would be only two options: pressing ahead or turning back.  Read more…

Rainbow Basin

The Desert Tortoise

Gopherus agassizii

The desert tortoise is an herbivore that may attain a length of 9 to 15 inches in upper shell (carapace) length. The tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees F because of its ability to dig underground burrows and to escape the heat. At least 95% of its life is spent in burrows. There, it is also protected from freezing while dormant, November through February or March. Read more…


Prickly Pear Drink Recipes

DesertUSA has received so many requests for Prickly Pear recipes and ingredients that we have decided to stock our store with Prickly Pear Syrup, nectar and related products.

Prickly Pear Drink Recipes & Prickly Pear Syrup Products
Buy Prickly Pear Syrup 35 oz on DesertUSA’s Amazon Store.
Buy Prickly Pear Syrup 1 Gallon on DesertUSA’s Amazon Store.

Fun Kids’ Activity

If you are looking for a fun activity to do with your kids, check out our “Break-at-Home” geode kits. This hands on rockhounding experience is a fun way for kids to learn about geology, how geodes are formed and the excitement of discovery when they break one open.  Learn more about “Break-at-Home” geodes.

Mojave Road Guide

An adventure through time. Explore the route used by pioneers on their way to California. The Mojave Road lets your SUV act as a time machine, guiding you on a trail that stretches for 138 miles through country virtually unchanged since prehistoric times.  Learn more about the Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier.