The Mojave Desert is a arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America. It is located in the southwestern United States, primarily within southeastern California and southern Nevada, and it occupies a total of 47,877 sq mi (124,000 km2). Very small areas also extend into Utah and Arizona. Its boundaries are generally noted by the presence of Joshua trees, which are native only to the Mojave Desert and are considered an indicator species, and it is believed to support an additional 1,750 to 2,000 species of plants.
While the Mojave Desert itself is sparsely populated, it has increasingly become urbanized in recent years. Las Vegas is the largest city in the Mojave with a metropolitan population of around 2.3 million in 2015.
The Mojave Desert is one of the most popular tourism spots in North America, primarily because of the gambling destination of Las Vegas. The Mojave is also known for its scenic beauty, with three national parks – Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve. Lakes Mead, Mohave, and Havasu provide water sports recreation, and vast off-road areas entice off-road enthusiasts. The Mojave Desert also includes a California State Park, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, located in Lancaster. Hoover Dam is a popular tourist destination.