Well, since the systems of southern California and far NW Mexico are unique to that area, as they are Mediterranean Conifer forests, you would have to go there. Jeffrey Pine, and the provenance of Ponderosa Pine is different than the Rocky Mountain Ponderosa and Arizona Pine. Also, rare conifers like Coulter do not exist in the interior, nor do the Digger and other foothill pines. We do have 2 somewhat rare-in the USA- pines, Apache or western longleaf pine, and Chihuahua, as well as Arizona Pine, which is an interesting 4 and 5 leaved variety or sub-species, or distinct species (depending on your source) of yellow pine.
However, to simply access Ponderosa Pine and or Pinyon/ Juniper forests, you don't have to go as far. From Mesa, US 60 can get you to Show Low, or head up to the Pinal Mountains above Globe, AZ. Payson, is close, as is the Rim, and you might like a drive up Mount Lemmon to the pines over a lot of white granite, which is reminiscent of the coastal and Sierra Nevada Granite batholith in southern California. The granite in the coastal ranges and Sierra, is basically the same batholith, I have read.
Last edited by Jim_H
on Dec 03 2014 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.