With well-known natural sights like the Grand Canyon and tourism hotspots like Las Vegas, the Southwest of the United States is perfect for all kinds of travelers. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah are great year-round destinations offering hiking trails for the summer and world-class ski resorts for the winter.
Phoenix, Arizona’s capital and largest city, has something for everyone. Enjoy culture at the Phoenix Art Museum, desert wildlife in the Desert Botanical Garden, and challenging hikes at the 824-meter-high Camelback Mountain. Recover from your hike in the restaurants and bars of Phoenix’s most vibrant neighborhoods, such as Old Town Scottsdale, Downtown, and Mill Avenue.
The Grand Canyon is without a doubt Arizona’s most popular attraction. See the orange, red, and yellow canyon walls from the famous South Rim or get closer to the impressive cliffs and deep ravines on a hike or helicopter tour.
|The Grand Canyon is without a doubt Arizona’s most popular attraction.
Hoover Dam is also extremely famous. Completed in 1935, this iconic piece of engineering is 220 meters high and 280 meters long. It holds back Lake Mead, which can be explored in the nearby Lake Mead Recreation Area, which preserves more than 6,000 square kilometers of natural beauty.
New Mexico’s capital, Santa Fe, offers great shopping, restaurants, and arts and crafts in its Plaza or along Canyon Road. Pick up some Native American art or jewelry as a souvenir, before catching a show at the Santa Fe Opera House. Albuquerque is also a must-see city, particularly if you’re visiting in October, when the colorful International Balloon Fiesta takes place.
|The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque takes place in October.
Whenever you visit, be sure to ride up the Sandia Peak Tramway for panoramic views and check out Central Avenue for clubs, restaurants, and theaters.
Adrenaline junkies should climb New Mexico’s highest mountain, Wheeler Peak (4,011m) or take to the 3,800-meter high peaks of the Taos Ski Valley for quality winter sports. More natural beauty can be found among the dramatic volcanic landscapes of the Bandelier National Monument.
|The Bandelier National Monument is home to stunning volcanic landscapes.
Once home to the Pueblo people, this scenic area offers archaeological ruins, dwelling remains, and intricate petroglyphs.
A trip to the Southwest would be incomplete without visiting Las Vegas. Most of the city’s most famous landmarks are located along the four-kilometer-long Strip. Ride a gondolier along the canals of the Venetian Hotel and enjoy restaurants, casinos, and the world-famous fountain show at the Bellagio.
|Splash some cash in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Head away from the Strip to watch street performers on Fremont Street or enjoy panoramic views from the 350-meter-tall Stratosphere Tower.
Once you’ve splashed (or maybe won) some cash in the city’s bars and casinos, enjoy Nevada’s natural beauty. The freshwater Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California border, is perfect for hiking and camping in the summer, or skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter.
|The Valley of Fire State Park features enormous red rock formations and desert landscapes.
More picture-perfect spots can be found in the Valley of Fire State Park and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which boast enormous red rock formations and desert landscapes.
Salt Lake City is a religious center for the Mormon religion, so be sure to visit the temple and assembly hall at Temple Square.
|Salt Lake City, Utah is a religious center for the Mormon religion.
Adrenaline junkies should take on the challenging 10.5-kilometer round-trip hike to the Grandeur Peak, while those looking for some peace and quiet should visit the Great Salt Lake. The largest saltwater lake in the Western hemisphere, Great Salt Lake is just a 30-minute drive from Utah’s capital and offers kayaking, paddle boarding, and sailing.
Outside of the city, Utah’s parks are full of impressive rock and stone formations. Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, while the Natural Bridges National Monument is home to three impressive natural bridges.
|Visit the impressive natural bridges in Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument.
The largest is Sipapu, but it’s also the hardest to reach, requiring a two-kilometer round-trip with extremely steep sections. While these areas are perfect for a summer trip, the Utah Olympic Park is a prime winter destination. Built for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, it offers tons of activities, including bobsledding, ski jumping, rock climbing, and ziplining.
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Went to Vegas on a business trip and took the opportunity to explore. Amazing weekend road trip to the Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe bend and the Grand Canyon, highly recommended as a contrast to glitzy Vegas!