Humans have lived in what we now call the American Southwest for centuries, making a wide impact on the land, much of it visible from aerial and satellite photography. Nuclear detonations, housing subdivisions, oil exploration, hydroelectric facilities, solar power facilities, roads, mines, farms, ranches, cities, and towns have altered much of the land over the years. Over the past week, I took a virtual tour with Google Earth, and wanted to share some of these snapshots of the human landscape in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. [42 photos total]

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A housing development in Henderson, Nevada, south of Las Vegas. (© Google, Inc.) #
A straight road cuts through the dunes of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. (© Google, Inc.) #
A spiral trail to the rim, then down to the crater floor of Capulin Volcano at Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico. (© Google, Inc.) #
Rainbow Acres, a small development south of Quartzsite, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, near Nipton, California. (© Google, Inc.) #
The Boneyard in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #
A railroad cuts across the Great Salt Lake near Salt Lake City, Utah. (© Google, Inc.) #
A ghost town, St. Thomas, Nevada. Founded in 1865, the small town was abandoned prior to the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1938, soon to be inundated by Lake Mead. The ruins are accessible when water levels are low. (© Google, Inc.) #
Spiral designs left by vehicles in the Jean / Roach Dry Lake Beds, near Jean, Nevada. (© Google, Inc.) #
An industrial/commercial section of northeast Denver, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
Craters dot the Earth in the Nevada National Security Site, formerly the Nevada Proving Grounds, where nearly a thousand nuclear tests were performed between 1951 and 1992. (© Google, Inc.) #
Thousands of old tires sit in piles at the CH2E Tire Recycling facility near Hudson, Colorado, where they will be processed into diesel fuel. (© Google, Inc.) #
Farm fields of varying shapes and sizes cover the landscape near Burlington, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
An abandoned center-pivot irrigation farm field near Winnemucca, Nevada. (© Google, Inc.) #
A development in Highlands Ranch, south of Denver, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
Access roads and gravel platforms for oil pumpjacks dot the landscape around Navajo Lake, formed by Navajo Dam, in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. (© Google, Inc.) #
The ruins of Pueblo Bonito, in the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Chaco, New Mexico. The site was occupied by the Ancestral Puebloans between 850 AD and the mid-12th century. (© Google, Inc.) #
Olinger Crown Hill Mortuary & Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
I really have no good what this is. If you have any idea, please let us know in the comments below. It's an area a bit less than one square mile, criss-crossed by numerous less-than-straight lines made by a vehicle clearing brush, and intersected by a couple of roads. In Elko County, Nevada. (© Google, Inc.) #
Sacaton open-pit copper mine, Pinal County, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #
The triangle-shaped runways of the now-abandoned WWII-era Roswell Auxiliary Army Airfield #3. The field was abandoned in late 1950s. The Roswell Correctional Center now occupies the northern tip of the former airfield. Chavez County, New Mexico. (© Google, Inc.) #
Cows stand in pens at JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feedyard, Kersey, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
The Wendover potash mine, near Wendover, Utah, on the Bonneville Salt Flats. (© Google, Inc.) #
Thousands of tire tracks lead to and away from a single point in the Great Salt Lake Desert in Utah. (© Google, Inc.) #
Spaceport America, Sierra County, New Mexico, a commercial spaceport currently used by Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. (© Google, Inc.) #
A small residential development with two tiny oblong lakes, near Rush Valley, Utah. Note the speedboat making waves at upper left. (© Google, Inc.) #
Highway and rail transportation hubs, downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. (© Google, Inc.) #
Just some of the hundreds of paths foreshadowing the cul-de-sacs of planned housing subdivisions carved into scrub outside Los Chavez, New Mexico, south of Albuquerque. (© Google, Inc.) #
A checkerboard of farm fields near Poston, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #
A target area etched into the ground at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. (© Google, Inc.) #
Farm equipment carves lines in a field near Granby, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
Suburbs meet desert in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #
Part of Nevada Solar One, a solar power plant, near Boulder City, Nevada. (© Google, Inc.) #
Long piles of waste rock left behind by the Snowstorm Dredge near Fairplay, Colorado. The dredge mined for gold in the South Platte River off and on throughout much of the 20th century. (© Google, Inc.) #
Sun Lakes, Arizona, south of Phoenix. (© Google, Inc.) #
Smoothly plowed farm fields contrast with neighboring, less-disturbed, parcels near Dove Creek, Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
A hillside terraced and plots carved up for a planned development south of Las Vegas, Nevada. (© Google, Inc.) #
Oil pumpjack platforms and access roads in Eddy County, New Mexico. (© Google, Inc.) #
A kaleidoscope of colors and shapes carved into the farm landscape near Last Chance Colorado. (© Google, Inc.) #
The Veteran's Memorial Highway cuts across the desert near Coaldale, Nevada. The triangular shapes at top are small ditches carved into the gently sloped hill, so runoff from rainstorms is channeled to culverts that run under the highway, preventing washouts. The diagonal line at bottom is an abandoned stretch of highway where runoff can be seen to have washed out several sections. (© Google, Inc.) #
Ruins of the Granada War Relocation Center, or Camp Amache, near Granada, Colorado. The Japanese American internment camp housed thousands of Japanese-American citizens from 1942 to 1945. (© Google, Inc.) #
A small subdivision borders on the surrounding desert in Bullhead City, Arizona. (© Google, Inc.) #

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