Many people around the world are bundled up and huddled down for a long winter. Here in the Western United States, we are dreaming of the sun’s warm rays and short sleeve tops despite several months left of winter. Until the first snowmelt, we have compiled a list of some of the world’s most gorgeous and often overlooked deserts.
Lençóis Maranhenses, Brasil
First on the list is the stunning Lençóis Maranhenses Park in Brasil. The desert lies in a Brasilian national park in the state of Maranhão. The dunes are composed of white sand that is perfectly sculpted by the winds that come through from time to time. The word “Lençóis” actually means “bedsheets” in Portuguese, and that is the perfect descriptor for the landscape. At the base of the dunes are pools of crystal clear rainwater that is optimally present from June and September. This is because the rainfall in Maranhão is known to happen from January to June. The juxtaposition of the dry and expansive dunes against the blue water is what lands Lençóis Maranhenses first on our list.
Painted Desert, USA
The picturesque Painted Desert is close to the JIFU headquarters because it is situated in Arizona between the famous Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Park. In fact, the landscape is about 93,500 acres! Aptly named, the desert’s layered look comes from deposits of clay and sandstone which reflect thousands of year’s worth of natural activity. Whether you are interested in camping, hiking, or simply marveling at your surroundings, Painted Desert is sure to inspire!
Located in Western China, Taklamakan is one of the largest sandy deserts in the world. Expanding 600 miles from west to east, Taklamakan is truly a magnificent sight to behold. The region has some of the most fascinating historical sites, as the Silk Road went through the northern and western edges of the desert. The area positions two important oases on the Silk Road that enabled trade to happen. Not quite as formidable as the Gobi Desert, the Taklamakan Desert has its own special, often overlooked charm. Enjoying the vast desert from the comfort of your own home is probably best, because Taka Makan is said to mean “the point of no return.”
Simpson Desert, Australia
A true desert in the classic sense, the Simpson Desert is an exceedingly arid region in Australia. Despite getting less than 5 inches of rain or less a year, some parts of the desert do get temporarily flooded with water from rain, on the rare occasion that it does fall. The red landscape is punctuated by unique desert flowers that spring forward as a result. The aboriginal art centers that can be found throughout the Simpson Desert also draw interest.
Kobuk Valley National Park
One of the most obscure places listed here can be found in Alaska, USA. Kobuk Valley National Park is the home to incredible sand dunes, rather than a true-to-form desert. We chose the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, in part, because they are difficult to get to due to its remote location. However, once found, the rolling dunes and caribou are sure to amaze anyone adventurous enough to get there. The dunes break up the vast wilderness of wetlands. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the herds of caribou that migrate through the area.