If you visit Arizona in springtime (March-April) it is possible to experience the best of the two extremes of North American landscape – flowering desert and snowy forest – within just a few hours’ drive. Based only own trip to Arizona in April 2013, I have now completed vintage-style poster-print designs for these two remarkably beautiful and diverse parts of Arizona: the Sonora Desert and White Mountains.
The cactus-dominated Sonora Desert extends from central Arizona (embracing the towns of Phoenix and Tucson) into Mexico, with the iconic Saguaro Cactus reaching a height of 15 metres (50 feet). A host of fascinating cacti and other succulents occur in this arid biome, with Hedgehog Cactus, Prickly-pear Cactus and red-flowering Ocotillo among the notable species. Cactus Wren and Gila Woodpecker (which excavates breeding holes in the tall Saguaros) were among the resident birds I observed.
Heading east out of Phoenix (330 metres above sea level), the road rises steeply into mountainous country that represents the southern extremity of the Rocky Mountains. In springtime – above an elevation of around 2,000 metres – there is still a lot of snow around towns such as Springerville and Greer. Groves of white-barked Trembling Aspen trees grow among the forests of spruce and pine, with Red-naped Sapsucker being one of five woodpecker species that I encountered. Once the traditional home of the Apache people, the White Mountains are an integral part of the historically-contentious Fort Apache Indian Reservation.