|Expect the unexpected?Books built around the astonishing beauty of the American Southwest seem to be everywhere. But this one really is different, in ways that will appeal to travelers and residents alike. It's full of visual and factual surprises, made to be enjoyed on many levels. Each page-spread is self-contained for clarity and ease of use on the road. The text blends travel tips, Native American legends, prehistoric and historic vignettes, and?as a unifying theme?explanations of earthly processes and events that have shaped land, people, and wildlife. The writing is informative without being academic. Readers will discover musical dunes and racing rocks, vanishing lakes and dinosaur tracks...which volcanoes are potentially dangerous, what makes the Grand Canyon grand, how the Painted Desert got its colors, and much, much more. Over 300 color photographs, 33 drawings, and seven customized maps (including a traveler-friendly pull-out map of the Greater Southwest) support the text. The volcanoes map, for example, shows where to find the most interesting volcanic fields in the Southwest. And up-front are four pages of photographic tips ("Capturing the Beauty") prepared by professional photographer/author Thomas Wiewandt. The broad geographic scope of this book?the Greater Southwest?is defined more by natural features than by political boundaries. With it, readers can explore desert and canyon landscapes that stretch from southern California to western Texas and from northern Mexico to northern Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. The back-matter is packed with resources to help outdoor adventure-seekers plan their trips: websites, annotated listings for 61 books and 100 scenic attractions (including notable sites outside the parks), and an index.