“Mountains complement desert as desert complements city, as wilderness complements and completes civilization,” Edward Abbey wrote in his autobiographical work, Desert Solitaire. If the word “desert” conjures up images of sand dunes, camels, and parched, monochromatic landscapes, then get ready for a surprise. Phoenix  and Scottsdale  sit in the northeastern corner of the Sonoran Desert, the most ecologically diverse desert region on the planet.
It stretches more than 100,000 square miles from central Arizona south into Mexico and west into California and is home to more than 1,000 native species of plants, 60 species of mammals, 350 kinds of birds, 20 amphibians, and 100 or so reptiles. It’s also the only place in the world where the towering saguaro cactus—made famous in so many westerns—grows naturally.
Sure, it’s a desert that’s usually hot from May to September and sunny most of the year, but Lawrence of Arabia would be lost here.