Saguaro Land: Mapping the Sonoran Desert is harder than you think

By Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 - 1:16pm
Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2023 - 11:46am

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saguaro cactuses in the Sonoran Desert National Monument
Bureau of Land Management
The Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona.

Saguaro Land is a series from The Show looking at the Sonoran Desert — the lushest, hottest desert in the world that happens to be our home.

The stories will examine the desert season by season, through music, art, literature, food, drink, flora and fauna — and maps, starting with a look at where exactly the Sonoran Desert is.

A map of the Southwest
Amy Silverman/KJZZ
A map of the Southwest.

But as it turns out, that’s not as straightforward a question as you might think. Mapping the desert is a challenging job and one that doesn’t have many clear-cut answers.

To try to get a sense of where the Sonoran Desert is — and where it isn’t — The Show reached out to Matthew Toro, director of maps, imagery and geospacial services at Arizona State University Library.  

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