During our move to California, and on our recent move back to the East Coast, we drove the same route cross-country. This consisted of only five highways in the US: Interstate 81 (Virginia, Tennessee,) Interstate 40 (Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona,) Routes 85 and 17 (connections in Arizona,) and Interstate 8 (Arizona, California.) The two ends of this road trip could not be any more opposite of one another, from the rolling green of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the dry California mountains covered in boulders and chaparral. Each environment is absolutely breathtaking and holds a very special place in my heart. This drive offers even more in the middle, from the plains of Oklahoma to the mesas of New Mexico. Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing.
One thing I don’t think I ever realized before moving to Southern California though is just how many different types of desert exist in our country. It seems that each time you crest a hill in the Southwestern United States you could potentially be coming back down on the other side to a completely different kind of desert. And this isn’t an exaggeration…I don’t know how many times we’d climb a hill in chaparral country and begin going down a grade into boulder country, two very different landscapes divided only by raised land and forces of nature.
The of the most diverse stretches of the Southwest lies between California and western New Mexico. On our trip from west to east I was sure to capture as many different types of these landscapes as possible as we made our way across, from the Sahara-like sands of the Imperial Sand Dunes to the high hills covered in saguaro cactus. (And don’t forget the incredible red rocks of Sedona, which we bypassed on our most recent trip through the area.)
I’ll just let my photos do the talking for the rest of this post. I wish that everyone could have the opportunity to see this gorgeous part of the US and experience the various changes with their own eyes!