Huachuca Mountains, Coronado NF, USA by Jonathan Cook

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The sky islands spread throughout the southwestern US and northern Mexico are wonderful oases of high-elevation mountains with cool temps and lush pine forests surrounded by desert. With ridge lines in the 8,000-10,000 ft range, the landscape and ecosystem change several times from foothills to peaks. These diverse habitats combined with their central location along major migration corridors result in the sky islands having one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. As a Phoenix resident, I was initially stunned to learn that I could travel effectively to the Mexican border and be able to hike comfortably in the middle of summer along winding ridges of oak and pine forests. My wife and I made just such a trip a couple of weeks ago with our new rescue dog to explore some of what the sky islands have to offer. This shot is the view looking across the Huachuca Mountains to the rolling low desert hills and layers of mountains in the distance below.

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