A sky island, or isla del cielo in Spanish, is a mountain habitat island separated from other mountains by distance and its surrounding lowland environment. Sky Islands are homes to a wide variety of biodiversity in flora and fauna sometimes found nowhere else in the world.
The San Jacinto Mountains, northeast of San Diego, can be considered sky islands as its vegetation is influenced by both elevation and climate. The valley floor consists of hot and arid conditions with plants and animals adapted to these areas. Lower elevations see trees like the California Black Oak and Coulter Pine, whereas higher elevations give way to cooler temperatures and conifer trees like the Lodgepole, Jeffrey, and Ponderosa Pines, and deciduous oak trees as well.
To see examples of sky islands in southern California, visit the Mount San Jacinto State Park and take a ride up Chino Canyon aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to an elevation of 8,156 feet where you can enjoy amazing panoramas of the surrounding wilderness from a bird’s-eye view.
PHOTO CREDIT: Maynard Hogg