What's in a name?

Everything, really.

In the southern reaches of Arizona and New Mexico, where our journal was born, sky islands are small, isolated mountains that rise up dramatically—like bright battleships—from the flat sea of desert that surrounds them.

Physically separated from other mountain ranges, and much higher in elevation than the surrounding desert, sky islands are refugia for exotic species found nowhere else, animals that only migrate vertically, and relict species that have found themselves stranded by a continually warming climate. Known for their ecological diversity, many sky islands are places where species from radically different biomes meet and mingle. Conversely, some promote extreme specialization in the species isolated there.

Sky islands loom large in human culture as well. They are the homelands of the Apache, the Akimel O'odham (Pima), and the Tohono O’odham (Papago). At one time, sky islands formed the beating northern heart of Old Mexico. After the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, they became the collective muse of raiders and ranchers, writers and warriors, painters and potters—home to the lawful and the lawless, the indigenous and the immigrant, alike. 

Isolated yet inclusive, sky islands are home to the lean and the rugged, the specialized and the independent, the tenacious and the beautiful. They are home to the native as well as the exotic. They are home to those who would rather see than be seen—home to the wild and the wild at heart. They are our favorite places because we can relate to them; sky islands embody everything we appreciate about writers and writing.

Sky Island Journal was established in 2017. Our publication's birthplace and spiritual home is Luna County, New Mexico. The Florida Mountains Wilderness Study Area is our muse; its landscape is the source of our positive energy, our rugged independence, and our relentless tenacity.

Many moons ago, when we first began, Volume One Magazine profiled our origin story, here:  http://volumeone.org/articles/2017/05/08/18943_reach_for_the_sky


 Who are We?

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Jason Splichal—Founder and Co-Editor of Sky Island Journal—is a husband, father, photographer, wilderness advocate, and the author of six books: most recently Katsura (2015), Flux (2012), and The Disappeared (2005). Winner of the Lake Superior Writers Prize, his poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies throughout the nation. He divides his time between his ranch at the base of the Florida Mountains in southwestern New Mexico, his off-grid cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he has served as an English teacher for 20 years.


Jeff Sommerfeld—Founder and Co-Editor of Sky Island Journal—is an educator and lifelong learner who believes the two are inextricably linked. His reading palette is as diverse as his professional writing background; he developed successful litigation strategies for Fortune 500 clients, secured millions of dollars in grant funding for nonprofit organizations, and held the role of Lead Writer for a professional sports website. After nearly a decade of teaching high school English, he now serves undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, he and his wife currently reside in Tucson, Arizona, with their dogs, Miller and Leinie.