Utah's Cold Desert


The journey through the great state of Utah continues; and this part of your virtual trip takes you to some of the most beautiful and unique country on the entire planet, Bryce Canyon, which is an example of a cold desert. Another example of a cold desert in Utah is the "Great Basin" area. The temperature ranges in cold desert biomes are extreme. The Great Basin area is one of the few deserts on the planet where the temperature often falls below freezing. It is cold enough in the Great Basin desert to snow in the winter.

The Great Basin Desert in Utah has long periods of cold weather and somewhat higher precipitation than other deserts (10-20 inches). Much of this precipitation falls as snow which is no surprise to you if you happen to live in this area.


Find out more about Bryce Canyon or the Great Basin area on the Internet. Write a report about your research.


Animals that make their home in the cold desert must be able to adapt to the extremely cold winters and very hot summers. Animals that live in the cold desert include the badger, bald eagle, bison, coyote, gopher snake, antelope, jackrabbit, mule deer and prairie dogs. 


Plants that live in the cold desert include , the sego lily which is Utah's State Flower, bitterbrush, different types of grasses, rabbit brush, and sage brush. Of course these are plants that are "native" to the cold desert. The Great Basin area has many more types of plants than it did two hundred years ago. Can you provide a reason why?


Use the Internet or a book to identify the plant and animals above. Write a paragraph on each of them.


By clicking any of the pictures below, you can go to other sites that contain some great information on the desert.


Of course you have heard the story of the pioneers coming into the area more than 150 years ago. Use the Internet or other resources to find historical descriptions of the area in which you presently live. Write a paper explaining the changes in animal and plant life have taken place since that time. Include species that may have left the area and plant and animal life that now live in your area that did not when the pioneers arrived. Also explain what you think would happen to your area if all of the people were to suddenly leave Utah.


Look on a map and find an area of Asia that is about the same latitude (distance north of the equator) as where you live. Find out what type of biome(s) the country has. Are they similar to any of Utah's biomes? Use the Internet to find information and photographs about the country. Make a poster or a presentation with the informaiton that you find.

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Updated August 7, 2001 by: Glen Westbroek

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