Did you know that the world's smallest desert is located in Canada?

Nov 15 2018, 12:02 am

Northern Canada isn’t exactly synonymous with a desert in most people’s minds, but, welp, here we are!

Known as the world’s smallest desert, Carcross Desert measures just one square mile, or 642 acres. It is located right here in our backyard – more specifically, just outside of the teeny village of Carcross in the Yukon.

world's smallest desert

Carcross Desert sand dunes. (Shutterstock)

Fun fact: Originally named Caribou Crossing, Carcross is one of the oldest villages in the Yukon, and is home to only about 435 people. Situated between Whitehorse and Skagway, Alaska, Carcross is also the burial site of the three prospectors who started the Klondike Gold Rush.

world's smallest desert

Old car and cabin in Carcross. (Shutterstock)

10,000 years ago, the Carcross Desert was home to a glacial lake, which eventually dried up to expose the sandy sediments that remain. The basin has an arid climate due to the rain shadow effect from the mountains of Yukon’s southern lakes region, receiving a wee 50 cm of rain per year.

world's smallest desert

Carcross Desert. (Shutterstock)

The area now hosts several species of unusual desert flora and is surrounded by sand dunes, which run two kilometres to the white-sand paradise of Bennett Lake. The dunes are a hotspot (hold the “hot”) for tobogganing and snowmobiling in the winter. In the summer, the desert is perfect for picnicking and jumping around on the dunes – basically a giant sandbox for kids. And us. We want to play too.

 

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