The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of Central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States. Named after the Mohave tribe of Native Americans, it displays typical basin and range topography.
The Mojave Desert's boundaries are generally defined by the presence of Yucca brevifolia (Joshua trees); considered an indicator species for this desert. The topographical boundaries include the Tehachapi together with the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges. The mountain boundaries are quite distinct since they are outlined by the two largest faults in California: the San Andreas and the Garlock. The Great Basin shrub steppe lies to the north; the warmer Sonoran Desert (the Low Desert) lies to the south and east. The desert is believed to support between 1,750 and 2,000 species of plants.
While most of the Mojave desert is sparsely populated, there are several large cities there. The largest is Las Vegas, while other large cities include Lancaster, California and Victorville, California.
The Mojave Desert receives less than 13 in (330 mm) of rain a year and is generally between 2,000 and 5,000 feet (610 and 1,500 m) in elevation. The Mojave Desert also contains the Mojave National Preserve, as well as the lowest and hottest place in North America: Death Valley, where the temperature often surpasses 120 °F (49 °C) in late July and early August. Zion National Park, in Utah, lies at the junction of the Mojave, the Great Basin Desert, and the Colorado Plateau. Despite its aridity, the Mojave (and particularly the Antelope Valley in its southwest) has long been a center of alfalfa production, fed by irrigation coming from groundwater and (in the 20th century) from the California Aqueduct.