What are Sky Islands?
Sky Islands are isolated mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico. Some of the mountains rise more than 6,000 feet above the surrounding desert floor making the lowlands and high peaks drastically different. Plants and animals living in the mountains could never survive in the surrounding deserts. Thus by analogy, the mountains are “islands” surrounded by deserts that are “seas”.
The Sky Islands connect two very different mountainous regions, the subtropical Sierra Madre of Mexico and the temperate Rocky Mountains of the United States. The mixing of these southern and northern biotas is truly unique.
Sky Islands are places where you can see incredible plant diversity in only a few miles. It is easy to visit both deserts and alpine areas in the same day.
We know the Sky Islands for their unique biodiversity and natural beauty.
- Gottfried, G.J., B.S. Gebow, L.G. Eskew and C.B. Edminster, compilers. 2005. Connecting mountain islands and desert seas: biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago II (PDF). May 11-15, 2004, Tucson, AZ. Proceedings RMRS-P-36. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO. 631 p.
- Sky Island Alliance - “Our mission is to protect and restore the biodiversity and natural heritage of the Sky Islands.”