Cross-bedded sandstone in Walnut Canyon

This cross-bedded sandstone forms the upper walls of Walnut Canyon in northern Arizona just east of Flagstaff. The cross-beds provide a window into an ancient landscape of migrating sand dunes.

Hopbush

The Sonoran Desert has a rich diversity of plant life and a number of species are found only here. The Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa), however, is not one of those plants limited to the American deserts. In fact, Hopbush has a cosmopolitan range; it is found from warm temperate to tropical areas of the Americas, Africa, Australasia, and southern Asia. This one was photographed in the Superstition Mountains, Arizona.

In the Rincon foothills

The southern and western foothills of the Rincon Mountains of Arizona feature Sonoran Desert on slopes below about 4,000′ in elevation.

The overlook at Windy Point

On its way up the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Mt. Lemmon Highway reaches a flattish, open area known as Windy Point that juts out along rock terraces and overlooks the entire Tucson region from over 6,000′ in elevation. Windy Point Vista is in Pima County, Arizona.

A cactus growing epiphytically on another cactus

Epiphytes are plants that grow harmlessly on other plants, using the larger plant’s structure for support. They are not parasites and are able to derive all that is necessary for their survival without damaging the host plant. A familiar example of a true epiphyte is Spanish Moss of the southeastern United States. Unlike Spanish Moss, the Prickly Pear Cactus shown here is not by nature an epiphyte, although in this case it is growing epiphytically simply through random chance. Apparently, the central stem of the Saguaro was at some point broken off, probably from wind. Later on, the Prickly Pear took root in the resulting cavity, probably from seed deposited at some point by a bird. The result is the incongruous sight of one cactus growing on another cactus. This photograph was taken in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona.

The old homestead along the Mimbres

An old barn is the only building left standing on this long abandoned homestead along the Mimbres River in eastern Grant County, New Mexico. Today, the site is a nature preserve protecting an important stretch of the upper Mimbres.

The road less travelled

Dirt roads leading into remote backcountry tend to filter out drivers who are more interested in getting from point A to point B. Last Dollar Road, a backroad through Uncompahgre National Forest in Colorado, is such a road. In spring, it passes through great fields of wildflowers including irises, sunflowers, and along this particular stretch, lupine.

The red zone

By mid-June in southern Arizona, it has been oppressively hot and bone dry for weeks. The first rainless clouds begin to appear as harbingers of the rainy season which is still a couple of weeks away. Tantalizing wisps of virga evaporate long before they can reach the parched ground. The clouds turn the sunset red, making it look every bit as hot as it seems, but they are also a sign that relief is on the way. Besides, they create a spectacular site every evening they appear. This photo is from the J-Six Ranch, Cochise County, Arizona.

Daybreak at Oza Butte

The first light on Oza Butte from Bright Angel Point. Daybreak arrives early on a summer’s day in Arizona because the state does not observe Daylight Savings Time, and this photograph was taken at 5:43 am. Bright Angel Point is a viewpoint on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

“Remember the Alamo”

Originally founded in 1718 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo today is remembered and revered as the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. On the morning of March 6, Mexican forces under the command of General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked and overwhelmed the small force of Texans, killing every defender to a man while sparing just a few women and children noncombatants. The roughly 200 defenders faced a force of perhaps several thousand Mexican troops. Among those who died in the massacre were James Bowie and William B. Travis, the commanders at the Alamo. Also killed was the famous frontiersman and ex-congressman Davy Crockett.

The cruelty and barbarism shown by Santa Anna galvanized Texans and stoked their resolve. The following month, on April 21, 1836, Santa Anna, commanding a force of 1,500 men, was defeated in the Battle of San Jacinto by a force of 800 Texans under the command of General Sam Houston. The battle lasted only 18 minutes. Only nine Texans were killed, while the Mexicans suffered 630 dead and 730 captured. The rallying cry of the Texans: “Remember the Alamo!” Today, the Alamo is completely surrounded by the urban landscape of San Antonio, Texas.