Desert Facts for Kids

Jennifer L. Betts
Boy in desert landscape of Wadi Rum

Deserts are fun and exciting places filled with a variety of different creatures and plants. Not only do these plants spark your wonder but the vast variety of deserts will shock and amaze you. Strap in and get ready for a fun fact filled ride through the desert.

What Makes the Desert Unique

The desert is a unique place. Not only do some plants look like they came straight out of a horror movie, but the conditions are dangerous to humans. Get ready to dive into what makes this biome so fabulous.

  • Deserts come in different types from dry and hot to cold.
  • Of all the land on Earth, a third is desert. That's a lot of desert.
  • Deserts get little rain per year.
  • Deserts can be flat and dusty or mountainous.
  • Temperatures in the desert can get over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • While deserts seem lifeless, they're actually full of plants, animals and organisms.
  • You can find deserts on every continent.
  • Only a small portion of deserts are hot and sandy.
  • Plants in the desert are specially designed to live off little water and long periods of drought.
  • Deserts typically have extreme temperatures.
  • The word desert actually means an area devoid of life or an abandoned place.
  • Deserts have different colored soil making them unusual.
  • Some deserts have large mineral deposits.
  • Deserts can have moving dunes that will shift with the winds.
  • You can find rock cliffs in different deserts. Due to erosion, the rocks can make cool shapes.
  • Deserts very rarely have lakes or streams.
  • Deserts can have high winds that create sandstorms. These also move the dunes.

Desert Sand Dune Facts

One of the unique features of a desert is the sand dunes. Learn more about different kinds of sand dunes you can find in deserts around the globe.

  • Dunes are hills formed of loose sand or stone in deserts.
  • Sand dunes can grow taller than the Eiffel Tower.
  • When the winds move a lot of sand, they can create an oasis where water comes from deep in the ground.
  • Deserts have different types of dunes.
  • The booming dunes in Badain Jaran Desert moan from seismic waves.
woman in sand dune

Polar Desert Facts

When you think of deserts, you might think of sand. But, some deserts in the world are actually not sandy at all. They are frozen. Explore the interesting world of polar deserts.

  • The polar deserts are the largest in the world.
  • Most of the ice in the world is found in and around the polar deserts.
  • Given the rough terrain and conditions, the polar deserts are rich with fossils.
  • The Artic and Antarctica Polar Deserts are the largest deserts.
Ice desert

Subtropical Desert Facts

It seems strange that subtropical and desert would be in the same sentence but it's true. Learn more about these unique deserts found in a specific region.

  • Subtropical deserts have high temperatures and are caused by air circulation from the Equator.
  • You'll find these deserts near the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Nope, they aren't Zodac signs.
  • Temperatures can reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, but they can freeze in the winter.
  • Variations in temperatures are extreme making these deserts dangerous.
The Sonoran Desert

Coastal Desert Facts

As you can gather by the name, coastal deserts are those desert that are found along the coast. Explore more facts about these deserts born from the ocean.

  • Coastal deserts have thick fog.
  • Some coastal deserts get less than 0.5 inches of rain.
  • The Namib Desert is the oldest desert at more than 50 million years old.
  • While they are found on the coast, coastal deserts are typically between mountain ranges.
Sand dunes at Sandwich Harbour, Namibia

Rain Shadow Desert Facts

Rain shadow deserts are unique biomes that are found on or near mountains. These deserts are created by the mountain blocking the moisture. Dive into rain shadow desert facts.

  • Rain shadow deserts are found next to some famous mountains like Tibetan Plateau and Sierra Nevada mountain range.
  • Rain shadow deserts are warm deserts.
  • These deserts get their name because the mountains shadow the rain making the area dry.
  • A famous rain shadow desert is Death Valley, which is shadowed by the Sierra Nevada range.
Layers of mountains with light and shadow

Interior Desert Facts

While there are deserts that are near water like coastal deserts, there are also deserts that are found inland. Examine the facts for interior deserts.

  • Much like their name, interior deserts are found in the heart of a continent and do not touch water.
  • These deserts lack moisture because moisture in the wind doesn't reach them.
  • Interior deserts will have summers that are hot and winters that are cold. They like extremes.
USA, California, Death Valley

Famous Deserts Around the World Facts

There are deserts, and there are famous deserts. Explore dry facts about these extreme areas.

Antarctica Polar Desert

You wouldn't think that the largest desert in the world would be located in Antarctica, but it is. This desert is full of fun interesting facts that might wow you.

  • Antarctica polar desert is over 5.5 million square miles. Now that's a big desert.
  • With only about 2 inches of rain/snow annually, it's really dry too.
  • Some areas of this desert haven't gotten rain in 2 million years.
  • This desert has some of the saltiest water on earth.
  • The average temperature in this desert is -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Now that is one cold desert.
    Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Arctic Polar Desert

While the Antarctica polar desert takes charge of the Southern Hemisphere, the second largest desert is located in the north. Explore this fun and exciting polar desert.

  • The Arctic Polar Desert is located in the North Pole.
  • This desert covers over 5 million square miles and stretches to Canada, America, Russia, Finland, Norway and more.
  • Low temperatures in the Arctic Polar Desert can get below -40 degrees.
  • The Arctic Polar Desert has 24 hours of daylight at the summer solstice.
    Greenland

Sahara Desert Facts

One of the most famous deserts is located in the African Continent. The Sahara Desert has some fabulous fun facts.

  • The Sahara Desert is the largest subtropical desert.
  • It is also the largest hot desert.
  • The Sahara Desert and the US are almost the same size with it coming in at 3.5 million square miles.
  • The Emi Koussi, a volcano, is found in the Sahara Desert.
  • The Sahara Desert has a freshwater lake.
    Sahara written on sand in desert, Morocco

Kalahari Desert Facts

Africa is full of deserts. Kalahari Desert is another famous large desert. Learn some interesting facts about the Kalahari Desert.

  • Meerkat Manor was filmed in the Kalahari Desert.
  • The clicking language, Taa language, is spoken by tribes in the Kalahari Desert.
  • Kalahari has a long chain of sand dunes that create lanes between them.
  • The Kalahari Desert is home to many villages and cultures.
  • Kalahari is the 6th largest desert.
    Sunrise at Kubu Island

Gobi Desert Facts

From Africa to Asia, the Gobi Desert is full of unique features. Check out what makes this desert unique.

  • The largest Asian desert, Gobi Desert is found in China and Mongolia.
  • The Gobi Desert makes an arc shape surrounded by grasslands and mountains.
  • The Gobi Desert is famous for being home to the Mongolian Empire.
  • Gobi Desert is rocky rather than sandy with dunes.
  • Underground rivers are found under the Gobi Desert.
    Rear View Of Man Walking On Desert Against Sky

Death Valley Facts

With a name like Death Valley, you can expect some fun and exciting facts. Dive in to this scorching hot area.

  • Death Valley is found on 3.4 million acres in Nevada and California.
  • It is the driest spot in not only the U.S. but all North America.
  • This unique desert got its name from gold prospectors around 1849, known as the 49ers.
  • Telescope Peak is the highest mountain in Death Valley and close to the lowest elevation in all the U.S.
  • Ubehebe Crater, which looks like a big basket, is a crater in Death Valley that is about a half mile long.
    Zabriskie Point at sunset, Death Valley

Atacama Desert

An unusual desert, Atacama Desert is found in Chile. Find out what makes this desert spectacular.

  • You know deserts are dry, but Atacama is the driest.
  • With it being the driest desert, you would think people would run for the hills, but more than a million call it home.
  • Atacama Desert sits snuggly between two mountains, which is part of the reason it is so dry.
  • Atacama is home to the Humboldt penguins.
  • The Atacama Desert is one of the best places to watch the stars with 2 observatories.
Road in Atacama desert - Moon valley mountain

Desert Plant Facts

Plants in the desert have learned to adapt on very little to no water. This means that they have a unique root system that allows them to survive. Explore different plants that thrive in the desert and their unique systems.

  • Some plants roots can come to the surface to collect rain water.
  • The seeds of desert plants stay dormant until there is enough water to grow.
  • Living stones are hardy plants that look like actual stones.
  • Aloe vera is a desert plant that has medicinal purposes. You can put aloe on a sunburn.
  • Desert rose needs warm conditions and has white, pink and red flowers.
  • The desert plant Sedum morganianum is called burro's tail because it looks like a donkey tail when it grows.
  • Echeveria have different colored leaves that are shaped in a rosette. They look like a leave rose.
  • The desert jade plant makes blooms in the winter and spring that are white with pink stripes.

Cactus Facts

A cactus is a unique spiky plant that lives in the desert. Not only are they well known through cartoons like Sherrif Callie's Wild West, but they are a staple of desert life. Check out some facts.

  • The plural of the word cactus is cacti. It's quite fun to say.
  • Cacti are found in ancient Aztec art.
  • Cacti have thorns instead of leaves.
  • These plants collect water in their roots. They have thin root that gather surface water and thick taproots that gather ground water.
  • People will dig up the roots of a cactus to get the water.
  • The tallest cactus is the Cardon found in Mexico.
  • The oldest cactus was over 300 years old and named Old Granddaddy.
    Cactus du Salar de Uyuni

The Amazing Desert Biome

Deserts are unique biomes full of fun plants, animals, weather and features. From the singing dunes to the cactus, deserts are an amazing place to visit. But you might not want to live there.

Desert Facts for Kids