There are three major hot deserts and one cold desert that are located in the Southwest part of the United States with each of these deserts having many “subdivisions” of deserts.
Geographically, they are located from northwest to southeast, Great Basin Desert, Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
The largest hot desert in North America is the Chihuahuan Desert, located in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Its total area is 140,000 square miles.
The elevations are generally high, averaging between 3,500′ and 5,000′, and as a result, temperatures fall below freezing during winter nights.
The Sonoran Desert is a desert located in the Southwestern United States (mostly Arizona) and northwest Mexico. It is the second-largest hot desert in North America. Its total area is 120,000 square miles.
It is a warm, low-elevation subtropical desert that receives relatively large amounts of predictable rain during two rainy seasons, the winter season and the summer monsoon season.
The Mojave Desert is the hottest desert in North America, located primarily in southeastern California. Its total area is 22,000 square miles.
Great Basin Desert
The largest cold desert is the Great Basin Desert, which encompasses much of the northern Basin and Range Province, north of the Mojave Desert.
Other cold deserts lie within the Columbia Plateau/Columbia Basin, the Snake River Plain, and the Colorado Plateau regions.
Other Deserts in Nevada
The Amargosa Desert, which is located in Nye County in western Nevada, United States, along the California–Nevada border, comprises the northeastern portion of the geographic Amargosa Valley, north of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
The desert is named after the Amargosa River, which was named after the Spanish word for bitter because of the bitter taste of the water.
Black Rock Desert
The Black Rock Desert is a semi-arid region (in the Great Basin shrub steppe eco-region) of lava beds and playa, or alkali flats, situated in the Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, a silt playa 100 miles north of Reno, Nevada that encompasses more than 300,000 acres of land and contains more than 120 miles of historic trails. It is in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan.
Forty Mile Desert
The Forty Mile Desert is a California Gold Rush name for Nevada’s Lahontan Valley and the adjoining area to the northwest. Emigrants following the California Trail west came into the Lahonton Valley via the Humboldt River. West of the river’s end in the Humboldt Sink, the trail forked, with one branch leading towards the Carson River and the other towards the Truckee River.
An arid region of canyons, volcanic rock, sagebrush, and grass makes up the ~9,375 square miles of Owyhee Desert.
The desert is in northern Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and southeastern Oregon. It is located on the south edge of the Columbia Plateau southwest of Boise, Idaho, stretching east from the Santa Rosa Range. It has a mean elevation of approximately 5,300′. The Owyhee Desert is primarily drained by the tributaries of the Bruneau River and Owyhee Rivers, which then flow into the Snake River. Most of the land in the desert is owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
It is largely used as ranch land. In 1999, the Desert Group submitted an alternative for Owyhee resource management.
Smoke Creek Desert
The Smoke Creek Desert is an arid region of northwestern Nevada, that lies about 60 miles to the north of Pyramid Lake, west of the Fox Range, and east of the Smoke Creek Mountains. The southern end of the desert lies on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, and a rail line lies at the eastern edge. The Smoke Creek Desert is southwest of the Black Rock Desert’s South Playa and is between the Granite Range and the Fox Range.
The Tule Desert is located in southeastern Nevada in Lincoln County, near the Utah state line.
The desert lies northeast of the Mormon Mountains, south of the Clover Mountains, and west of the Tule Springs Hills.
The desert descends from an elevation of around 4,300′ on the foothills of the Clover Mountains west of Lime Mountain to around 3,000′ about 17 miles to the south-southeast at the narrow Toquop Gap between the East Mormon Mountains and the Tule Springs Hills.
The Y P Desert is a desert and ecoregion, within the Deserts and xeric shrublands Biome, in Owyhee County, Idaho, and Elko County, Nevada in the northwestern United States. The Y P Desert lies at the eastern edges of the Owyhee Desert, and is home to the South Fork Owyhee River Recreation Area. Josephine Reservoir, a small reservoir, Hat Peak, and the Duck Valley Indian Reservation are at the eastern perimeter of the Y P Desert.