The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition is a group of people who care about our desert and want to help others understand it’s amazing natural and cultural history. We help to organize and sponsor educational and discovery events like the Chihuahuan Desert Fiesta at Tom Mays Park, a Habitat Certification program that encourages people to landscape with native Chihuahuan Desert plants and the Chihuahuan Desert Club.
The Chihuahuan Desert – Hot Spot for Conservation in North America
Preventing the further degradation and disappearance of the Chihuahuan Desert is among the most pressing challenges of our age in the Southwest United States and northern Mexico. Urban sprawl is causing a large-scale loss of biodiversity and threatening important environmental services. You can get involved with efforts to increase awareness of the desert by joining the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and other organizations listed on our Desert Links page.
Facts about the Chihuahuan Desert
- Covers 1.5% of the North American
- Largest desert in North America
- 394,446 square miles
- 32% in the southwest US found in the states of New Mexico and Texas
- 68% in Mexico
- Chihuahuan Desert makes up 22% of Mexico territory.
- Largest portions in Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Zacatecas, and Nuevo Leon.
- Bordered to the west by the Sierra Madre Occidental and the east by the Sierra Madre Oriental.
- The Chihuahuan Desert is a “rain shadow desert” meaning that the surrounding mountains prevent most of the moisture coming from the Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The climate of the Chihuahuan Desert is relatively mild compared with other deserts, partially due to an elevation that averages 4,500 feet (1,372 m) above sea level. Summers are hot, while winters can be cold. The wet season (July through September) brings more than 50% of the average annual precipitation. In this region of the Chihuahuan Desert, the average annual precipitation is 8.9 inches (255 cm).
- 90% of the Chihuahuan Desert lies at an altitudes between 3,600 and 4,900 feet.
- High species diversity is influenced by basin and range topography with isolated mountain ranges usually over 5,900 feet high separated by valleys.
- The first scientific assessment of the Chihuahuan Desert was made between 1892 and 1894 when Mexico and the United States created the US Mexico Water Boundary Commission.
- Plant diversity is estimated to be over 3,500 species with as many as 1000 endemics.
- The Chihuahuan Desert is considered the epicenter of cacti diversity with 318 species of 1500 species worldwide.
- Mammals – 176 species with 11 endemics
- Reptiles and Amphibians – An estimated 156 reptile species with 24 species endemic to the Chihuahuan Desert. As for amphibians there are 46 species, none of them endemic.
- Birds over 500 species
- Fish – The major rivers and relict springs provide habitat for 120 species of fish, many of them endemic.
- Invertebrates – Thousands of species are estimated to live in the Chihuahuan Desert.
- The Chihuahuan Desert is one of the most biologically diverse deserts on the planet. It ranks #1 among deserts for the number of aquatic species and the number of mammal species.
Facts about El Paso’s Franklin Mountains State Park
- Franklin Mountains State Park is considered an urban wilderness state park.
The largest park of its kind in the continental United States.
- 150 recorded species of birds.
- 700+ species of plants.
- Over 90 species of lichen.
- 32 species of mammals.
- 40 species of amphibians and reptiles.