Six Reasons to Love the Southwest

By Molly Herber

Aug 28, 2015

1. Remoteness

Lightweight Backpacking at NOLS Southwest

You’d think that flying into Tucson means you’ll be only a stone’s throw from civilization. Wrong! There’s miles of empty space in the Southwest to get lost in—but we’ll teach you how to stay found.

2. Escape the Polar Vortex

Swimming in the Gila

True, it gets chilly at night and can even snow, but the temperature will never get to -40 degrees with a -60 degree windchill (we hope … )

3. Visit another planet

Climbing at Cochise Stronghold

Ok not literally, but once you see the incredible rock formations at Joshua Tree National Park or Cochise Stronghold, you’ll feel like you’ve been to Mars. Take that, Star Trek.

4. Constant surprises

Backpacking in the Galiuro Wilderness

Think the desert is dead? Think again. It’s teeming with life—even the soil is made up of more than just dirt (think of a matrix of lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria). This means you’ll have plenty of practical opportunities to really dig into ecology (and puns about soil).

5. Cultural history

Potshards in the Gila

As far as ruins go, the Anasazi and Mogollon cliff dwellings in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness are some of the oldest that you’ll find in the U.S. (they’re as old as the Roman Empire). You’ll also paddle the Rio Grande and glimpse life on the U.S.-Mexico border today, getting a practical perspective on contemporary political and cultural issues in the U.S.

6. Caving

Caving at NOLS Southwest

It’s not creepy, it’s awesome, and there are no mysterious cave creatures —we checked.

Caving with NOLS Southwest

Except these guys ...

Written By

Molly Herber

Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber

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