EnvironmentThe diversity of the environment of Iran is often a surprise to the foreign visitor. From the sub-tropical forests of the Caspian Sea region to the vast desert of the Dasht-e-Kavir one can hike in spectacular mountains, ski at world class ski resorts in the Alborz Mountains just outside of Tehran or scuba dive in the Warm waters of the Persian Gulf. At least two thirds of the country has winter snowfalls with perennial snow and glaciers in the high mountains. Mount Damavand (15,312 feet) is the highest mountain in the Middle East. At the same time the province of Azerbaijan has a climate similar to that of Switzerland. The central deserts are hot and dry during the summer months while the Persia Gulf Coast is hot and humid. The diverse landscape of Iran maintains the Persian Leopard, the Asiatic Cheetah, gazelles, bears and about 500 species of birds. Because of the diversity of Iran's environment one can not only visit the World Heritage sites, vibrant urban centers, archeological wonders but increasingly the adventure traveler is visiting Iran because of its national parks, mountain climbing, nature treks and desert safaris.