About the Sky Islands
The Sky Island region contains some of the most rugged and remote lands in the Southwest and features some of the highest levels of regional biological diversity in the United States. The region takes its "sky island" name from the isolation of individual mountain ranges by surrounding seas of grasslands or desert.
Spanning southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, northwestern Chihuahua, and northeastern Sonora the Sky Island region is a landscape of wonder, beauty, and wildness. The Sky Islands from an important bridge between the monolithic mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains which extend south from Canada and the Sierra Madre Occidental which extends north from central America.
Leaping from a desert floor of approximately 3,000 feet to elevations exceeding 10,000 feet, these mountain ranges host a wider variety of overlapping life-zones. In a given mountain range one can hike in a day from habitat types characteristic of the desert and scrub of central Mexico, up to spruce-fir forests characteristic of Canada. This dense vertical stacking of multiple life-zones supports an exceptionally high level of biodiversity in a relatively small land area.
Valleys of this basin-and-range country act as barriers to the movement of some woodland and forest species, similar to saltwater seas isolating plants and animals on oceanic islands. The 40 mountain ranges of the Sky Island system may be thought of as an archipelago.
The Coronado National Forest manages over 1,780,000 acres in the US portion of the Sky Island region. Sitting at the heart of the region, this Forest is a global treasure encompassing a remarkable diversity of plants and animals and a wealth of natural resources.