For the Love of Geography: Deciduous Forests

Deciduous forests can be found worldwide but are most widespread in eastern United States, central Europe and eastern Europe. The deciduous forest is comprised of broadleaf trees and have four distinct season and the leaves change color and lose their leaves in the winter.

Hominy Ridge Lake, Salamonie River State Forest, Indiana

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Hoosier National Forest, Indiana

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Mountain Farm, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, North Carolina

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Other posts in this series on Forests: Temperate Forests, Coniferous Forests, Deciduous Forests, Cold Dry Forests, Hot Dry Forests

For the Love of Geography: Coniferous Forests

Coniferous trees have seed bearing cones such as pine trees. Most coniferous forests are located in cold areas including northern Eurasia, Canada and northwestern United States. Coniferous forests include softwood trees such as fir, hemlock and spruce.

Mount Rainier, Central Washington

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Glacier National Park, Montana

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Batchawana Bay, Ontario

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Other posts in this series on Forests: Temperate Forests, Coniferous Forests, Deciduous Forests, Cold Dry Forests, Hot Dry Forests

For the Love of Geography: Temperate Forests

Temperate forests are located within humid biomes of North America and Eurasia that have distinct warm and cool seasons. They are dominant in broadleaf (ie: oak, beech, maple) with a coniferous mixed in (ie: pine, fir, spruces).

Temperate rainforest: Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

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Temperate Mixed: Hillman State Park, Pennsylvania

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Other posts in this series on Forests: Temperate Forests, Coniferous Forests, Deciduous Forests, Cold Dry Forests, Hot Dry Forests

For the Love of Geography – Forests

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When you think of a forest you may entertain images of lush green wooded areas rich and dense with marvelous mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, thick shrubs and verdant plants. If you grew up anywhere east of the Mississippi this may be your first image of a forest as it was mine before my first trip west.

 

 

 

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Several years ago I drove through the Inyo National Forest in eastern California and while I knew I was in a forest (that’s what the sign said) I wondered where those lush green trees were. While national forests have more to offer than my idea traditional forest, we drove for hours and found few trees, only shrubs, bristle cone pines and Joshua trees. The purpose of the national forest is to preserve the wilderness in its many different forms.

 

 

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Same trip, while driving through Washington I noticed the mountains covered in evergreens, not a deciduous tree anywhere. Not the forests I was used to.

Knowing there were many types of forests was one thing but seeing them, experiencing them, transports you to a whole different world.

 

 

These are some different types of forests I will be covering in subsequent posts: tropical and temperate rainforests, conifer (cone bearing), deciduous (leaf shedding), temperate mixed (both cone bearing and leaf shedding), savannah (sparse trees), Mediterranean (California coast), xerophytic (desert) and wetlands.

Other posts in this series on Forests: Temperate Forests, Coniferous Forests, Deciduous Forests, Cold Dry Forests, Hot Dry Forests

For the Love of Geography: Sonoran Desert

Saguaro National Park (West), Arizona

Saguaro National Park West, Arizona   Saguaro National Park West, Arizona

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

 

Other posts in this series on Deserts: Great Basin, Chihuahuan Desert, High Desert Land, Sonoran Desert 

For the Love of Geography: High Desert Land

The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Escape Dunes

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Hiking on the Great Sand Dunes

Other posts in this series on Deserts: Great Basin, Chihuahuan Desert, High Desert Land, Sonoran Desert

For the Love of Geography: Chihuahuan Desert

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

White Sands National Monument, NM

White Sands National Monument, NM

Big Bend National Park, TX

Chihuahuan Desert-Big Ben National Park, TX

 

Other posts in this series on Deserts: Great Basin, Chihuahuan Desert, High Desert Land, Sonoran Desert

For the Love of Geography: Desert lands of the Great Basin

Caribou National Forest, Idaho

Caribou National Forest, Idaho

Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming

Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming

Sego Canyon, Utah

Sego Canyon, Utah

Great Salt Desert, Utah

Great Salt Desert, Utah

 

Other posts in this series on Deserts: Great Basin, Chihuahuan Desert, High Desert Land, Sonoran Desert

 

For the Love of Geography: Deserts

Death Valley_radiator water

Years ago before having visited my first desert landscape my perception of deserts was that they were devoid of any benefit: devoid of life, devoid of beauty. As a geographer I knew the facts, however my (mis)perceptions remained.

Let’s address some these common misperceptions:

Deserts are devoid of water.

Death Valley_badwaterWhile there is little water in desert regions there is water. There is rainfall in all deserts. The Arica Desert in Chili gets less than an inch while others get as much as 10 inches. This may not be much but the earth and vegetation have a way of conserving what little water they get. If you visit during the “rainy” season beware: flash flooding is an unforeseen danger for the unaware visitor. (While there is water in the photo to the left you wouldn’t want to drink it, thus the name “Badwater”. Even so there is water, albeit intermittent)

Deserts are always hot.

While desert temperatures can exceed 120° in the winter temperatures can dip down into the 30s. Those would be considered “hot” deserts. There are also “cold” deserts which occur in the higher altitudes and Antarctica. In a cold desert precipitation is usually in the form of fog or snow.

Deserts are devoid of animal life.

Desert jackrabbitActually there are numerous species of mammals including javelina (a type of wild hog), prairie dog, mule deer, porcupine, coyote, jackrabbit, fennec fox, and rats. Additionally, there is an abundance of snakes, lizards, owl, roadrunners, hawks, scorpions, spiders and tarantellas.

Deserts are devoid of plant life.  

CA_joshua treesThere are numerous plants, trees, shrubs, cactus and flowers including wooly daisy, saguaro cactus, prickly pear cactus, Joshua tree and yucca. Not only is desert vegetation beautiful it is also useful. Plants feed small animals as well as providing water.

Deserts are devoid of beauty.

DV_in basin I have visited desert regions on several occasions and after returning home, deserts are what I most long to visit again. The vegetation and the mountains are beautiful. The absence of sound and the dry warmth is soothing to the soul. I long for the peace I experienced. I encourage all of you to visit the desert and let the toxic build up of everyday life melt away.

Mojave Desert: Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada

DV_282 sign2My first visit to a desert region was Death Valley National Park in the northern region of the Mojave Desert. My daughters and I spent a few hours exploring then went to the nature center. It was 10:00 am and the thermometer read 114° in the shade. The heat was nothing like we could have imagined. We explored the rest of the day at my insistence, they weren’t happy about it. They went along with it because I had reserved a nice cool hotel room in Las Vegas. As we left we all agreed “We will never come back here. It’s too hot, there’s nothing pretty to look at and not much of a place to hike.” I did hike into the basin only because I couldn’t have come so far and not do it. I may have gone 150 yards before returning. TOO much heat!

DV_devils golf courseBut those few hours was all it took. Before we arrived at the hotel I was already longing for the peace and beauty of the desert. I told my girls I wanted to go back some day and even they agreed there was more to this desolate place than we had first seen. Death Valley is surreal, otherworldly. Once you visit it leaves a little of itself in your soul. I haven’t been back to Death Valley yet but I have visited many other desert landscapes, all beautiful, all restored my soul.

Death Valley trivia: During our visit I kept feeling like there was something familiar about the place. On our way to Vegas I decided to watch a movie…Star Wars. As I watched my eyes got big and my heart. I checked the credits and confirmed the movie was filmed in part at Death Valley.

All photographs taken at Death Valley National Park

Other posts in this series on Deserts: Great Basin, Chihuahuan Desert, High Desert Land, Sonoran Desert

For the Love of Geography: Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains were formed over 70 million years ago and extend over 3000 miles. The Rockies consists of nearly 70 mountain ranges from northern British Columbia, Canada to the Rio Grande River in New Mexico.

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Other posts in this series on Mountains: Appalachians, Rockies