Top Ten Deserts

Top Ten Deserts to Explore

The earth can be raw, devastating, and even beautiful in its relentlessness.

Ponder its great rivers. Waters flow where waters will flow. We can dam, dredge, and reinforce to our heart's delight, but when the aquifers are full and the rain still falls, there is often little we can do to contain a breaching canal. But whereas most people think of aqueous overkill when pondering Mother Earth's tempestuous majesty, there is an arid and equally fluid opposite pole that will not be denied: deserts.

Deserts are areas of light rainfall with little or no plant or animal life. Moviegoers love them as vast sweeps of rolling ochre dunes and cracked flatlands. But not all deserts are sere, sand-swept Saharas; limited precipitation can also be the result of extreme cold, like that found in Antarctica, one of the driest places on the planet. And then there is the human element: Even in more temperate climates, overgrazing, inefficient irrigation, and deforestation can prompt desertification.

Here, then, is GORP's look at ten of the world's "best" deserts (in no particular order). Why contemplate barren austerity? Because trekking, galloping, pedaling, and driving into the uninviting emptiness of our earth's least hospitable climes is part of the outdoor package people now seek. Besides, what better place is there to go to when you want to get away from it all. Not just some of it, but ALL!

Published: 17 Jan 2003 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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