Island in the skyBig Bend National Park, TX

Sky islands sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve talked before about being on Island Time—and in a weird way, this is kind of the same thing. You see, islands don’t just exist in water; you can find them in the middle of the desert, too.

The Chisos Mountains, in the heart of Big Bend National Park, rise 4,000 feet above the parched desert floor below. The elevation gain gives them a dramatically different climate than their surroundings. The name they call these types of mountains just melts my heart: sky islands.

I don’t know about you, but that reminds me of the sort of things I used to dream up when I was a kid. Of Shangri-la and castles in the air. Of quests and secrets. Of dirigibles and airships.

Who says park rangers aren’t romantics?

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