Las Vegas Thrives in the Mojave

Posted on — By William Zheng

The Mojave Desert is a harsh environment where very little life exists, but against all odds, Las Vegas continues to grow. Considering the climate of the Mojave Desert, it is difficult to figure out how Las Vegas came to be. Rain is scarce at four inches per year, and the long summer season frequently exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This harsh climate of the Mojave Desert means low levels of natural resources. Las Vegas isn’t a city that should exist, but somehow it does.


How does Las Vegas continue to grow?

The answer to this question is in the infrastructural inventions of Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System.


Water in the Mojave Desert

One of the basic necessities of any city is nearby water. Although Las Vegas was originally founded for its abundance of spring water in the desert, those water sources have since dried up. Today, Las Vegas gets the majority of its water from Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam. Since Las Vegas receives very little rainfall, it depends on the Colorado River and Hoover Dam for its water supply. Together, they form the lifeline of Las Vegas.

Aerial View of Hoover Dam


Feeding the Masses

Another basic necessity that cities need to survive is food production. However, food production in the Las Vegas Valley is difficult because of the harsh climate. Although water is accessible via Lake Mead, the sweltering hot temperatures can make growing certain crops not cost-effective. As a result, Las Vegas depends on the Interstate Highway System for the transportation of goods. The I-15, which runs through Las Vegas, connects the city with Los Angeles to the South and Salt Lake City to the North. Today, Las Vegas receives many of its agricultural goods through the I-15 corridor.


I-15 heading towards Las Vegas


Las Vegas continues to challenge the ways a city can exist in an extreme environment. While many cities have abundant natural water sources, favorable climates, fertile soils, or diverse natural resources, Las Vegas didn’t have any of these characteristics. Las Vegas has worked hard since its inception to turn nothing into something in the harsh climate of the Mojave Desert.