Those who love to travel will venture all over the world, but travel newbies will quickly learn you don’t need to go far in the United States to find true beauty – whether that’s in its urbanised centres or out in the country’s varied countryside.
There are countless loops, routes and tours that will allow you to discover America, but Southwestern USA specifically offers some of its top scenery, in addition to iconic landmarks and institutions. Many will head toward Nevada to hit up the Las Vegas casinos, but they end up staying for what’s beyond the bright lights and loud music.
You may not have time to see every location in this part of the world, so I’ve put together a list of those most worth checking out.
Grand Canyon (Arizona)
Arizona in general is hot and dry, but this makes for vast landscapes and stunning vistas. There are several places to visit as there’s Monument Valley – which looks like it was plucked straight out of a western film – Antelope Canyon, with its awe-inspiring rock formations.
But if you’re in Arizona, the tried and tested Grand Canyon is the way to go. This is quite possibly the biggest attraction in the American Southwest in terms of both physical size and reputation, frequenting the bucket lists of travellers across the globe. To make your trip extra-special, take a helicopter ride over the canyon itself.
Valley of Fire (Nevada)
Nevada is where you go to gamble the night away and hit up brilliant live shows – whether that’s music or theatre. It’s also the home of the Valley of Fire, which happens to be the oldest state park in Nevada.
Journey through over 46,000 acres of red sandstone formations and ancient, petrified trees, or set up camp at one of the park’s many campsites. Be sure to go during a sunny day, where the natural effects of a blazing sun make the rocks look like they’re on fire.
Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)
New Mexico is one of Southwest USA’s underrated gems, and you’re never far from beautiful nature. Although it may be known as the state where hit television show Breaking Bad was set, there’s plenty to see including Shiprock, which makes you feel like you’re in the Lord of the Rings, and Taos Pueblo, with its Clint Eastwood vibes. They’re both worth checking out, but if you’re in New Mexico the top attraction has to be the Carlsbad Caverns, whose pictures don’t do it justice. Slow-play your way through the caverns for just $15, or seek out the more intense Ranger-Guided tours.
Cadillac Ranch (Texas)
Not everything that is beautiful and worth seeing in the American Southwest is given to us by nature. If you happen to be in Texas, make a pit stop at the Cadillac Ranch, where you can see graffitied cars driven into the ground. Take it all in or leave your own mark. Either way, it’s a wonderful Instagram opportunity and a fun sight to see in person.
Garden of the Gods (Colorado)
Colorado has numerous beauty spots to check out, as the Alamosa National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park can all attest to. But if there’s one spot you absolutely have to see while in Colorado, it’s the Garden of the Gods.
An iconic natural landmark, the Garden of the Gods gives you a unique view through nature-crafted redstone. Hike, rock climb or bike your way through beautiful, organic terrain.
Arches National Park (Utah)
One more place to be sure to check out is Arches National Park. Renowned for it’s beautiful and perfectly-crafted Delicate Arch, Arches National Park offers breathtaking scenery and amazing views. Camp, hike or just sit back and marvel at the natural beauty in Utah.
Have you got any suggestions for a Southwest USA adventure? Let me know in the comments below!