I have an Earth-like world (approximately 1000CE technology--horse/mule for travel) that I want to have my characters traverse over the course of the book. I want the areas to have distinct geography/climate but, given the travel restraints, I don't want them to spend many many months on the road to get from place to place.

What I've gathered: Going from ocean to desert is simple, as is ocean to plains. But one of the key portions is getting from a tree-line mountainside, to a snowy and tree-rich place, down to a hot-arid desert and back to a coastal plain.

To be more specific, for those familiar with the climate terminology of the Koppen classification: I want to get between Dsa, Bwh, Bwk, Dfc, and Dfb all in one book.

I have been scouring the map for ideas of examples of this and the closest I can come to is the area surrounding and in Turkey, so if you have better Google-foo than I, please speak up with links and ideas.

Many thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ Try San Diego county. Anza-Borrego Desert to Julian to Alpine to El Cajon to downtown San Diego. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Aug 18, 2019 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


Colorado riverYou could do worse than the Colorado river in the US.

It starts up in the mountains near Denver. From Wikipedia

Most of the basin is arid, defined by the Sonoran and Mojave deserts and the expanse of the Colorado Plateau, although significant expanses of forest are found in the Rocky Mountains; the Kaibab, Aquarius, and Markagunt plateaus in southern Utah and northern Arizona; the Mogollon Rim through central Arizona; and other smaller mountain ranges and sky islands.

Places like that could do for your higher elevations / snowy zones. The Colorado is best known for traversing the desert Southwest and some really awesome landscapes. It meets the ocean (or used to) at the Gulf of California. Not much of the water still gets thru but before large scale diversions of water for agriculture it was verdant and green:

Paddling the delta in 1922, naturalist Aldo Leopold was entranced by the flourishing world beyond the tip of his canoe. “Verdant walls of mesquite and willow . . . a hundred green lagoons,” he wrote. “The river was everywhere and nowhere.” https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/colorado-river-delta-proof-natures-resiliency

  • $\begingroup$ Awesome! I can also lenghthen the ocean entry area as a delta and POOF Insta-World. Thanks so much. $\endgroup$
    – Heather M
    Aug 19, 2019 at 0:18

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