One of the main things that Stegner points out about the west in so many of his stories, including "Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs," is the lack of water. It is a defining characteristic of both the landscape and the life that must be led upon it. His difficulties growing up and the hard work he had to put in while working with animals and on the farm were often exacerbated by that same lack of water, something that comes out frequently in his writings.
Another characteristic of the West according to Stegner is the tendency of Americans to place their own visions of the place on top of the actual reality of the landscape. The land often ends up resisting or overcoming those misplaced visions of the land as the inhabitants run into the difficulties and the problems inherent in the landscape.
Another important characteristic of the west is its incredible variety geographically, geologically, variety in terms of flora and fauna, and a host of other amazing ways that it can differ so distinctly from other pieces of itself and yet be a sort of cohesive whole.