The fleur-de-lis fence

In the old mining town of Jerome, Arizona, an overgrown yard full of junk is secured with an ornate iron fence. The high fence features two stacked courses, and uprights each tipped with a fleur-de-lis, the familiar emblem originating with French heraldry. The elaborate enclosure seems a lot more fancy than the humble vacant lot would merit.

Just below Red Mountain Pass

Red Mountain Pass is along US-550 between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado. The summit of the pass is over 11,000′ in elevation. This photograph was taken just after crossing the pass heading downhill to the town of Ouray.

Sunset with cirrocumulus clouds

This scene features high altitude cirrocumulus clouds which create an interesting variation on the standard issue sunset. Photographed at the old J-Six Ranch, Arizona.

Life on the bajada

Mountains build alluvial fans as sediment-bearing streams wash eroded material out of the higher parts of the range and deposit it around the mountain’s base. The overlapping consolidated alluvial fans creates a slope habitat of more water permeable material and deeper soils which provide optimum conditions for the Sonoran Desert plant life. These slopes, known as bajadas, display the local Sonoran Desert growth at its highest degree of development. These photos are from the lower slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona.

Double rainbow

The bright, clear light of the Southwest often produces brilliant rainbows. In this case of an apparent double rainbow, a secondary rainbow is visible above the arc of the primary rainbow. The secondary rainbow is more faint than the primary rainbow, and the order of the colors is reversed. This photo was taken in Corona de Tucson, Arizona.

Arizona Fishhook Cactus

This tiny and inconspicuous cactus is easily overlooked except when it is in bloom. This individual is only about the size of a golf ball. Arizona Fishhook Cactus (Mammillaria grahamii) is also called Graham’s Nipple Cactus. This one is from Corona de Tucson, Arizona.

The green-clad summit

The assemblage of high mountains ranges in southeastern Arizona is often referred to as the Sky Islands. Rainfall increases and the temperature decreases the higher up you go. At the highest elevations, conditions are wet enough and cool enough to support forests, making each isolated mountain range like a green island in a desert sea. These photographs were taken on the summit of Mt. Lemmon, the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona. The elevation is over 9,000′ at this location.

 

Cow Parsnip

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum) is a large herb. It is in a family of aromatic plants which includes such familiar species as celery, parsley, and carrot. This plant was photographed near Camp Bird, Ouray County, Colorado.

 

 

The Granite Dells

The Granite Dells just north of Prescott, Arizona, is an area of exposed bedrock that has eroded into various formations. A particularly common characteristic of the eroding granite here is spheroidal weathering resulting the abundance of rounded boulders.

Blind Prickly Pear

This species of prickly pear cactus is restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert. The Blind Prickly Pear (Opuntia rufida) lacks the obvious spines of most other prickly pears. It does, however, have numerous glochids (very small, very fine barbed hairs) which easily become airborne when livestock bump into the pads as they forage. They can get into the animals’ eyes and result in blindness. This individual was photographed in Big Bend National Park in Texas.