The Mojave Desert ( moh-HAH-vee, mə-; Mohave: Hayikwiir Mat'aar) is a xeric desert in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the Southwestern United States. It is named for the indigenous Mojave people. It is located primarily in southeastern California and southwestern Nevada, with small portions extending into Arizona and Utah.
Along with the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Great Basin deserts, a larger North American Desert is formed. Of these, the Mojave is the smallest and driest. The Mojave Desert is bordered to the west by the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the California montane chaparral and woodlands, and to the south and east by the Sonoran Desert, although the boundaries to the east of the Mojave Desert are less distinctive than the other boundaries as there is no distinctive presence of an indicator species, such as the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia), which is endemic to the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Desert is distinguished from the Sonoran Desert and other deserts adjacent to it by its warm temperate climate, as well as flora and fauna such as ironwood (Olneya tesota), blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida), chuparosa (Justicia californica), spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens), desert senna (Cassia armata), California dalea (Psorothamnus arborescens), and goldenhead (Acamptopappus shockleyi). With these other factors, the extent of these plants generally serves to differentiate the Mojave from the nearby Sonoran desert. The Mojave Desert displays typical basin and range topography, that is, generally having a pattern of a series of parallel mountain ranges and valleys. The Mojave Desert contains various silver, tungsten, iron and gold deposits. It is also the site of Death Valley, which is the lowest elevation in North America. The Mojave Desert is often colloquially called the "high desert", as most of it lies between 610 and 1,220 m (2,000 and 4,000 ft).
The spelling Mojave originates from the Spanish language while the spelling Mohave comes from modern English. Both are used today, although the Mojave Tribal Nation officially uses the spelling Mojave; the word is a shortened form of Hamakhaave, their endonym in their native language, which means "beside the water".