We know our amazing planet is home to a stunning array of different climates and geographies. From the highest mountains to the lowest valleys, from the coldest places on earth to the warmest, Mother Nature has covered just about every extreme we can think of. Deserts are one of those extremes—typically very dry areas, often with an unforgiving climate and temperatures wild enough to break thermometers. But not all deserts are created equal; for these 9 deserts, just being a desert wasn’t enough and Mother Nature decided to dial it up to 11.
9. Great Basin Desert
The boundaries of the Great Basin Desert are actually somewhat fuzzy, but most people agree on one thing: it’s the largest desert in North America, even if we aren’t quite sure just how big it is. Like the deserts of South America, the Great Basin Desert was created by the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Encompassing most of Nevada and stretching into California, Idaho and Utah, the desert is known for its extreme temperatures: daytime temperatures exceed 32°C (90°F) and then drop as low as 4°C (40°F) at night. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are cold and snowy thanks to frigid alpine ridges. Although temperatures can be more extreme in the nearby Mojave and Sonoran deserts, the Great Basin Desert owes its more “moderate” climate to its elevation: there are up to 33 peaks that exceed 3,000 m (9,800 ft)!