I rode through this region recently, around Jan 3rd-5th. I had one very cold morning about 100 miles west of Flagstaff, but it was still 15f above zero.
There are forests, but (IMHO) not as lush as east coast forests can be - it will not feel like what you are used to. OTOH, you'll have the Sonoran Desert to the south which, IMHO, is the most beautiful of the American deserts. Plus proximity to things like Death Valley, Monument Valley, etc. Should be plenty interesting in terms of places to ride to, and nothing at all like what you have back home. I expect Route 66 will be interesting exactly once, and then more of a kitschy annoyance.
That's about all I have, I'm sure others who have spent more time there know more.
Can you finagle a fly out interview? If so, try to make a weekend of it and rent a bike for some sightseeing, then you'll have a better feel for things.
--Semantics are everything.