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DesertUSA is a guide to the American Southwest. Our stories feature topics ranging from rockhounding and boating to desert parks and unique points of interest.  DesertUSA’s content includes in depth information about the natural history of the desert regions of the United States.

Superstition Mountains

Ghost Towns in Southern Arizona

The Superstition Wilderness, Fort Bowie, Pearce, Courtland, Gleeson, Tombstone, Fairbank, Harshaw, Duquesne, Lochiel, Yuma Territorial Prison, KOFA

There are a number of interesting ghost towns in southern Arizona, especially in the area around Tombstone, and in or near Coronado National Forest. I’m including towns that are completely abandoned, as well as towns that still have residents — albeit less than their “boom” days. You’ll travel on some dirt roads if you go to all these towns, but only one of them, KOFA, requires 4-wheel drive. A high clearance vehicle is always useful when searching for ghost towns. Read more…

Spirit Mountain

Grapevine Canyon

Spirit Mountain, Nevada

The temperature was pushing 90 degrees as we climbed out of our air-conditioned car. The hot sand radiated heat as we dropped down to the sandy wash. Our destination was about 1/4 of a mile up the wash to a place known as Grapevine Canyon near Spirit Mountain. To many first time visitors, the Mojave Desert seems barren and desolate, but a walk through Grapevine Canyon offers another perspective. As we walked up the wash, I wondered what it must have been like some 800 years ago when the Indians were the sole inhabitants of the area. Read more…

Kachina Doll

Kachina Dolls

Katsinam

In the cosmological world of the Southwest’s Puebloan traditions, the masked figures called “kachinas,” or “katsinam,” personify supernatural beings who live in neighboring sacred landscapes, serving as wise and benevolent intermediaries between the people and their deities. Kachinas, according to Puebloan belief, convey their spirit to those who wear the magical masks and mysterious dress of particular figures and who perform the esoteric rituals of the holy ceremonies. Effigies, or “dolls,” crafted by Puebloan artisans serve as revered symbols used in teaching new generations about specific kachina forms and their particular spiritual role. Read more …

Raccoon

The Raccoon

Procyon lotor

The raccoon – a masked, stealthy and cunning creature of the night – long ago established a firm hold on human imagination. The raccoon embodies the characteristics of secrecy, deception, transformation, nimbleness, strength, power and battle. For some Native American peoples, the raccoon evoked associations with spirits of the sky, rivers and lakes and the mischievousness and foibles of the near-universal “Trickster” figure.  Read more…

News

Fun for Kids!

If you’re looking for a fun thing to do with your kids, check out our “Break-at-Home” geode kits. This hands on rockhounding experience is a great way for kids to learn about geology, how geodes are formed and to experience the excitement of discovery when they break one open.  Learn more about “Break-at-Home” geodes.

Mojave Road Guide

An adventure through time. Explore the route used by pioneers on their way to California. The Mojave Road lets your SUV act as a time machine, guiding you on a trail that stretches for 138 miles through country virtually unchanged since prehistoric times.  Learn more about the Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier.