Detrital Wash is located south of Lake Mead in the Mojave Desert; Krakauer describes it as extending some fifty miles from Lake Mead into the mountains north of Kingman. The only place in the world the endangered bear-paw poppy, Arctomecon Californica, grows is on the south shore of Lake Mead in the Mojave Desert. It thrives on the gypsum soil of the Valley.
The Wash is usually very dry for most of the year, and in the summer months, very hot air often rises from off the surface of the ground. This super-heated air can often form enormous cumulonimbus clouds rising up thirty thousand feet or more, sending powerful rainstorms across the Detrital Valley. So much rain often causes flash floods in the Wash. Vegetation in Detrital Wash includes white bur sage, prickly pear and cholla, and saltbush.