Have you ever been to the desert? It’s one of our most favorite places to go. Yes, we love a little “vitamin sea” from the ocean, and we’re fascinated by majestic whales and stunning sharks. We also love the mountains’ majesty, whether they’re covered in forest or snow. But the desert? That open expanse of sand — with the sun both beating down on you and also reflecting up at you — is unreal. It’s an environment undeniably deserving of being the subject of art. Case in point? Desert coloring pages.
Get ready to break out all of your warm red, orange, pink, and yellow crayons, though, because North American deserts are the picture of burnt orange perfection. The first time we took a road trip through the desert, we knew that “foreign” wasn’t the right word. It wasn’t odd or surreal enough to truly describe seeing the desert landscape for the first time. It felt utterly alien, like walking on the surface of Mars. It took our breath away… and not just because of the heat. Spending time daydreaming about the desert, writing about the desert and, yes, coloring pictures of the desert seems like the perfect way to escape into our memories.
Plus, ya know, coloring is beneficial. For adults, coloring can be a major stress reducer. If you’re in a slump, it might help to pull you out. For kids, coloring activities can teach things like self-control, hand-eye coordination, and how to follow instructions. Even if you or your kiddos have never been to a desert, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these amazing desert coloring pages and plan your next big adventure. And speaking of big adventures, you can move straight from these free printables into other travel-worthy ecosystems with our beach coloring pages, jungle coloring pages, and nature coloring pages.
Free Printable Desert Coloring Pages
Desert Page No. 1
Yes, we just spent a ton of time talking about a sandy, hot desert. But, do you know what the actual largest desert on Earth is? It’s Antarctica! Technically, all it takes to constitute a desert is a lack of precipitation. Because the air in Antarctica is so cold and dry, it rarely rains. Sounds perfect, right? Well, minus the freezing temperatures.
Desert Page No. 2
So, there’s the icy desert of Antarctica, but did you know what the rest of the deserts in the world aren’t all sand, either? Only 20 percent of deserts are all sand. The rest is dry, cracked Earth and looks more like gravel and rocks. That’s actually what you’ll see in much of the North American deserts. You can find a good example of a sandy desert (or sandy savannah) in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa. If you like playing the video game Mario Kart 64, this may sound familiar. That’s because there’s a track called the Kalimari Desert which is inspired by the Kalahari.
Desert Page No. 3
Deserts aren’t all landlocked, either. “Coastal deserts” are desert regions that meet up with the sea. You can find coastal deserts in South America (specifically Chile) and Africa (the Namib Desert). The Namib Desert isn’t home to many organisms, but Welwitschias are definitely the coolest plant in this desert. They can survive up to 2,000 years.
Desert Page No. 4
Deserts aren’t all flat or full of sand dunes, either. Many deserts are home to giant landforms, like mountains, buttes, and plateaus. You can see some of these giant structures by heading to the western part of the United States. National Parks like Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park all boast these magnificent landforms that seem to jut out of the surrounded desert. It’s pretty cool to go see.
Desert Page No. 5
There are trees in the desert, too. Deserts are home to such trees as palo, desert willows, ocotillo, and date palm. If you go to California and visit Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll see some of the oldest trees on Earth in a desert. Of course, an arborist or a desert expert will tell you that technically Joshua Trees aren’t trees at all but simply a type of yucca that grows tall like a tree.
Desert Page No. 6
If you love the Joshua Trees, you should act fast to go see them — they’re only found in the Mojave Desert, mostly in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. Sadly, few new Joshua Trees are being planted and/or surviving. Many researchers worry that by the end of the 21st century, less than 10 percent will remain. Human interference is partially to blame, not surprisingly. However, the tree’s decline is also due to the fact its key cultivator, the ground sloth, went extinct 13,000 years ago.
Desert Page No. 7
With the sloth’s extinction, what animals can still be found in a desert? For ice deserts, the most popular animal is, of course, the penguin. Within the United States’ deserts, though, you can find animals like burrowing owls, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, hares, arachnids like scorpions and spiders, and a few varieties of snakes.
Desert Page No. 8
Perhaps the most popular desert-dweller, though? The Greater Roadrunner. That’s right, folks! The roadrunner isn’t just a character on a Looney Tunes cartoon. It’s a real animal that lives in both the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of the United States. It only grows to about 24 inches tall, but it’s pretty tough. One of its main sources of food? Rattlesnakes. *shudder*
Desert Page No. 9
Speaking of cartoons, remember when cartoon characters would get lost in a desert and see visions of a nearby city or even just a lake with water? Those visions were called mirages.
Desert Page No. 10
The real thing is called an oasis. Just like highway oases, there are spots in the desert where a mostly barren desert suddenly opens up to pools of water and trees. Interesting fact? The water in an oasis isn’t from new rain. It’s water that has been pushed up from under the surface and probably fell from the sky 20,000 years ago. That water still tastes good to thirsty trees and animals, though! One of the only things more interesting than an oasis is the origin of its name. It comes from an ancient Egyptian word that translates to wahe or ouahe, which means dwelling place.