At the heart of Canada’s rugged Northwest lies one of the country’s most extraordinary natural wonders. Because here, framed by mountains, is the dune landscape of the Carcross Desert. It is often referred to as the world’s smallest desert. However, that is not entirely true.
Northwest Canada’s Yukon Territory is a rugged, sparsely populated place characterized by mountains and glaciers. But here is also a unique natural phenomenon that you might not expect. That means a dune landscape called the Carcross Desert, named after the nearby location. It’s a whimsical exaggeration that now keeps tourists coming year-round. Because the Carcross Desert is repeatedly referred to in the media as the smallest desert in the world.
loud “BBC“The Karcross Desert is actually small, covering just 2.5 square kilometers, measuring 600 meters at its widest point: a sand pit bigger than a true desert, say the evil tongues. Indeed, by definition, a cluster of dunes is not a desert, at least not like the Sahara. The Karcross Desert is very ” Being “wet” – that is, it receives too much rain to be recognized geographically as a true desert.
Not a “real” desert
Accordingly, areas defined as arid deserts receive only up to 250 millimeters of rain per year. On the other hand, semi-arid deserts, and Carcross Desert is one of them, receive up to 500 millimeters of rainfall per year. It’s still very low, but it means that the place is only a “second class” desert. However, the location in the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains means that there is not nearly as much vegetation here as in the Gobi Desert or the Atacama.
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“Real” desert or not: how did this unusual place come to be? The answer is about 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age. Back then, the mighty, mile-thick glaciers that covered the Yukon Territory slowly retreated. Great lakes took their place, but eventually these dried up again. Meanwhile the sediment that had settled at the bottom of these lakes was now carried away by the wind. In the case of the Carcross Desert, this happened until the desert-like dune landscape we know today was formed in that place.
A paradise for nature and relaxation lovers
Meteorological Center”WeatherAccording to him, what is now Carcross Desert was once a lake known as Watson Lake. Even today, the Watson River, which flows through the area, carries a large amount of sand and sediment to nearby Lake Bennett. This in turn is pushed along the coast by strong winds into the (semi)desert, which is still growing and constantly reshaping. It is precisely this natural wonder that now attracts more and more tourists.
Because the Carcross Desert is now a popular local recreation area – for locals and visitors alike. In summer they come to the dunes with quads and sandboards, and in winter they come with sledges, skis and/or snowshoes. And the “smallest desert in the world” is a paradise not only for people but also for nature.
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Carcross desert is home to wild sheep, deer and mountain goats as well as rare species of insects. Probably not all of them have been discovered yet. Plants such as Yukon lupine and Baikal sedge grow along the edges of the desert, preventing increased soil erosion. Also on the Tripadvisor portal, users are fascinated by the “smallest desert in the world”. “Beautiful place. What an amazing landscape,” writes one. A second, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” A third, “The sand is amazingly soft, so kick off your shoes and enjoy some travel.”
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