The word wash is used to describe areas where subtle contours allow water to flow, or “wash,” from elevated sites to lower zones, like the bottoms of canyons or along gullies or next to ponds. Carrizo Wash in Arizona and Hunters Wash in New Mexico are examples of washes that run for many miles. A dry streambed or creek is often called a dry wash. In some areas of the American Southwest the words arroyo and arroyo seco are used interchangeably with wash and dry wash. In Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey writes: “Streambeds are usually dry. The dry wash, dry gulch, arroyo seco. Only after a storm do they carry water and then briefly—a few minutes, a couple of hours.”

Arturo Longoria

I don’t imagine the turquoise bracelet the dusky wash makes, or the red hills circling the dreaming eye of this sacred land. I don’t imagine anything but the bracelet around my wrist, the red scarf around my neck as I urge my pretty horse home.

— Joy Harjo, Secrets from the Center of the World

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