Sonoran Desert Basics

March 29, 2010

by Marcia Warwick


For many people the word “desert” brings to mind dry, sandy, baron and lifeless. Our desert, the Sonoran Desert, which is a “living desert”, encompasses southern Arizona, northwest Mexico and most of the Baja Peninsula. It is well known for its splendor and, of course, the amazing giant Saguaro cactus.

The abundant varieties of cacti and other vegetation, as well as wildlife, that call the Sonoran Desert home, not only survive the harsh unforgiving desert climate, but also thrive in it.  This desert is the most diverse habitat in the world. The remarkable biodiversity of flora and fauna can be observed on the hiking trails here at the Tanque Verde Ranch as well as those in Saguaro National Park, which is right next toTVR. Our trails take us into the desert wilderness to experience the splendor of nature. indigenous to the Sonoran desert.

We’ve had only trace amounts of fall/winter rain in the past 4 years. This fall and winter we have had extremely significant rain, which we must have in order to have a spectacular wildflower display in the spring. We are looking forward to about 750 different varieties of wildflowers in April, May and mid-June. There will be a rhapsody of wildflowers all over the desert terrain.

As always, we look forward to the summer rains, which bring most of the rain that we receive all year. It is called the monsoon season.  The winds change direction over the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez and push north to the southwest. The air, which is warmer that the bodies of water, condenses and form clouds that become thunderheads when they reach the Sonoran desert, and so the rains come.  They fill the dry washes and become rivers, create waterfalls, produce large pools of water in the mountains.  The cactus become plumper and all other vegetation become greener.  Here at the Tanque Verde Ranch, which is nestled in the comer of the Rincon and Catalina mountain ranges, we experience the summer rains as we observe spectacular sunsets in the west and somewhere in between there are double rainbows.  It is truly magic….nature at it’s best!

For those of you not familiar with our area, here is a great map to help you find your way!

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