Last updated: February 3, 2015
Natural Features & Ecosystems
The American Southwest is acclaimed around the world for its magnificent geologic features, renowned, not only for their beauty, but also for their scientific value. Grand Canyon National is the most famous of them all, but astounding in their own right are the rock pinnacles at Chiricahua National Monument, the cave and its formations at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the cinder cones at Capulin Volcano and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments, and the glistening white sands of White Sands National Monument.
The American Southwest’s diverse ecosystems include four major biomes—the Chihuahan Desert, the Sonoran Desert , the Mohave Desert and the Great Basin. They also encompass an extended elevational gradient, which encompasses pinyon-juniper woodlands, ponderosa pine forests, mixed conifer forests and spruce-fir forests. Major drivers affecting these ecosystems are climate, fire, and grazing.