Sky Island Plant Communities
When you climb a Sky Island mountain in the summertime, you start in the desert where the daytime temperature may reach 120° Farenheit and you end up on a mountaintop where the temperature is perhaps 75° Farenheit and you feel comfortable wearing a jacket. This dramatic change in only a few miles results in equally dramatic plant changes. It is estimated that going up 1,000 feet in elevation is roughly equivalent to going 165 miles to the north, so in only a few miles climbing you can see plant changes equivalent to traveling hundreds of miles northward.
The Sky Islands connect the Sierra Madre of Mexico with the Rocky Mountains of the United States. The Sierra Madre is relatively warm compared to the Rocky Mountains and as you might suspect the higher elevation Sky Island plant communities have more in common with the Rocky Mountains while the lower elevation communities have more in common with the Sierra Madre.