The Deserts of California: A California Field Atlas | Mechanics' Institute

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The Deserts of California: A California Field Atlas
with author Obi Kaufmann

The San Francisco Chronicle #1 bestselling author Obi Kaufmann of the canonical California Field Atlas returns with an epic, forward-looking exploration of the state’s arid eastern regions.

The Deserts of California: A California Field Atlas blends science and art in Kaufmann’s signature style to throw into relief ecological insights greater than either might yield alone. Through expressionistic mapmaking, wildlife renderings, and geographic conservation guides, Kaufmann explores the marvels of and threats to these resilient yet sensitive ecosystems.

Of a piece with his best-selling books The Forests of California (2020) and The Coasts of California (2022), The Deserts of California rounds out Kaufmann’s expansive California Lands Trilogy. Individually and collectively, these volumes set out to transform entrenched colonialist attitudes toward the American West, and transform our concept of nature from a resource for extraction to a shared and cherished inheritance.



Obi Kaufmann is the author of The California Field Atlas (2017, #1 San Francisco Chronicle bestseller), The State of Water (2019), The Forests of California (2020), and The Coasts of California (2022), all published by Heyday. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at home in the East Bay, posting trail paintings at his handle @coyotethunder on Instagram. His speaking tour dates are available at, and his essays are posted at




Praise for The Deserts of California:

"Filled with enchanting watercolors and detailed descriptions, Kaufmann’s field atlases can stoke an urge to explore California’s landscapes up close. That’s particularly apparent in The Deserts of California, where so many of the details are hiding in plain sight."

- Liz Ohanesian, The Orange County Register

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