When people think about Canada, they're probably thinking about Tim Horton's, poutine, and hockey, but l believe it or not, the Great White North is also home to some of the strangest attractions in North America. You can head to the Yukon to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail (with a real human toe), visit a UFO Landing Pad, or marvel at the World's Largest Axe, but if you want to see something really neat, you can visit the The World's Smallest Desert.
The Carcross Desert, tucked away in the Yukon Territories, measures approximately 1 square mile. Thanks to its size, it's often referred to as the smallest desert in the world, but technically, it's just a series of sand dunes since the area is too humid to be considered an actual desert. Still, the odd patch of land seems insanely out of place in Canada.
The sand was formed during the last glacial period, when large glacial lakes formed and deposited silt. When the lakes dried, the dunes were left behind. Today, sand comes mainly from nearby Bennett Lake, carried by wind. The dunes contain a wide variety of plants, including unusual varieties such as Baikal sedge and Yukon lupine, among others.
Quite like a real desert, the Carcross Desert is quite a bit drier than the land around it, getting far less rain each year thanks to what's referred to as a "rain shadow effect" caused by the local mountains. Thanks to this weird geological quirk, numerous rare species of plans have been able to grow in the dunes, including Baikal sedge, an Asian plant that is only known to exist in four other sites in North America.
You would think that such a unique environment would be protected by the government, but it's now. As it turns out, The Yukon Territorial government actually tried to deem the tiny desert a protected area way back in 1992, but were successfully defeated by sandboarders, of all people. Turns out, the sandy slopes make for some sick boarding.
Even still, the Carcross Desert is pretty well taken care of, and makes a great place for a hike, a picnic, and even provides some pretty awesome skiing in the winters.