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10 Destinations that Explain My Love Affair with The Southwest

When people ask me where my favorite destinations are, it’s hard for the American Southwest to not instantly pop into my mind. Although I’ve been to many incredible destinations the vastness of the deserts and canyons, the wild spirit and the alien-looking formations of the Southwest stand out. These 10 Southwest destinations are just a handful of the many amazing places I’ve had the pleasure of exploring in the region. (It’s so hard for me to rank these that they’re in no particular order!)

Canyonlands National Park

10 Southwest Destinations

Canyonlands is located near Moab, Utah and has multiple sections. There’s a wide array of things to see in this mind-blowing park. There are Native American dwellings + petroglyphs, rock formations, 4-wheel drive trails and so much more! My favorite trails (so far) are Upheaval Dome and the trail that leads to the spectacular and iconic Mesa Arch. One of my favorite things about visit the Isle in the Sky section of Canyonlands is watching the way the sun moving across the sky changes the colors and shadows of these beautiful canyons.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is just that, grand. This massive canyon lives up to its name and its opportunity for adventure! You can raft the Colorado River, hike on one of its multiple trails, relax in the lodge, walk the Skywalk or take a helicopter ride. Don’t forget about the more wooded North Rim. The colors aren’t as vivid, but it’s a totally different experience. Also, it’s a great destination in every season. I’ve been in late winter and summer and both have their own unique beauty!

Arches National Park

Arches is out of this world. The landscape here feels like you’re exploring Mars. Arches National Park gets its name from the over 2,000 arches in the park. This park is one that I have enjoyed visiting again and again. The most iconic arch in the park is Delicate Arch which is worth the trek to see it at sunset. In addition to the arches there are many other rock formations like Balancing Rock and the Three Gossips.

Antelope Canyon

 

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is a stunning Slot Canyon that is just a photographer’s dream! It’s located on Native American land and a tour is required to go through the canyon. It’s very crowded, but if you go in the off-season and are in the first group in the morning you feel less like cattle. Even with the feeling of being shoved through, it’s well worth a visit.

Monument Valley

Although I’ve only ever driven through Monument Valley, it’s such a gorgeous landscape that it still made my top 10 Destinations in the Southwest. I have plans to go back and spend more time hiking in the area, or maybe even take a horseback ride.

Havasu Canyon

the southwest

Havasu Canyon is one of those unreal destinations. The contrast of the red rock canyon against the bright turquoise water is just unreal. It feels extra exclusive because numbers are limited (due to requiring a permit) and you can only access it by mule/horse ride, helicopter ride or 10-mile hike down. It’s so very wonderful and well-worth the visit. Not to mention, this is only one of many waterfalls down in the canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park

My visit to Bryce Canyon was short and sweet. In fact, when we arrived here much of the road was closed due to several inches of snow! I was disappointed to not be able to hit the trails, but even getting to see these hoodoos from an overlook and see the massive Natural Bridge (the first of that size I had ever seen) was very memorable.

Zion National Park

 

Zion is a National Park that I’ve visited a couple of times, and both times it left me mesmerized. On my first visit here, I was just a child, but it left me in awe. It was the first place I remember feeling in awe of nature and full of wanderlust. Whether it was driving through, climbing Angel’s Landing or standing in the river, this park is sure to leave you speechless at some point.

Big Bend National Park

I don’t typically lump Texas into the Southwest, but after visiting Big Bend National Park, I have to say it has an unmistakable Southwest feel. I mean, it is just about as far in SW Texas as a person can get, so I’m going to give myself a pass on it! It’s way out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s one of my top 5 favorite National Parks. It’s one of those places that unexpectedly leaves a mark on your hear.

Native American History + Petroglyphs

Having an anthropology degree, I have an affinity for searching out cultural or archaeological sights. Luckily all around the southwest there are ancient Native American dwellings and even more petroglyphs! I have to say the greatest example I’ve seen thus far (and I’ve seen about a dozen now) is Newspaper Rock in the Moab region. It’s one of the many amazing works of art spread all throughout the region. Don’t forget to look close when you’re out and about in the Southwest.

This region is so very near and dear to my heart. It’s a place full of ancient spirituality, other-worldly destinations and a wild spirit unlike anything other place I’ve ever experienced. What is your favorite Southwest Destination?

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This post is sponsored by Grand Canyon Deals, but my love for The Southwest and my opinions, as always, are my own.

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    alittlebitofingrid
    August 23, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Great post, we did a couple of the above on our own road trip and very first visit to the US last Summer but still many to visit…will have to return…no punishment there🤣

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      There are so many new things to visit! I have my own list with about 200 things on it from this region alone! (And a few I want to repeat!) 😉

  • Reply
    AuthenticTravels
    August 23, 2017 at 11:10 am

    What a huge collection of canyons ! I don’t even know which one is the most beautiful because they all are so stunning. I’d start with the Antelope Canyon, though because it reminds me of the desert and camel trips which I love so much.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Antelope Canyon does have that exotic desert look to it, doesn’t it? They’re all so beautiful and unique!

  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    August 23, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Ugh alllllllllll of these are so amazing!! We are planning to road trip it all some time as I haven’t been to every one of these yet! I can’t get over your Grand Canyon photo, it looks like a painting!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Haha! You have an epic trip ahead of you! Thank you! I have always loved that photo – it’s one my my favorites I’ve ever taken!

  • Reply
    Bev Malzard
    August 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I haven’t visited all these locations but this region of the USA is magnificent. I recently hit the edge of Antelope Valley (shame about the absence of antelope) and stayed in the desert town of Lancaster – a hip and happening place. See story on my blog https://travelgaltravels.blog

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 24, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Sounds like fun! It is a shame that there aren’t antelope. Antelope Canyon is just outside of Page (an awesome town for exploration in itself). Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    August 24, 2017 at 12:05 am

    This reminds me of how much I need to visit Bryce and Zion. I have done some of the others but not yet got back to do these two and they look truly incredible

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 24, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      It was a good reminder for me too about how much I want to get back to Bryce and explore more. There’s so just so much to see in the Southwest!

  • Reply
    LaiAriel R. Samangka (Thelittlelai: Beyond limits)
    August 24, 2017 at 2:08 am

    These are truly an amazing destinations. I only have seen these places on the International magazine and I only wish to visit them on my dreams. The Bryce Canyon National Park is truly breathtaking and I wish to traipse my feet here If I get the chance. I also love how you captured all the photos cause they are just perfectly amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      They absolutely are. Thank you very much for the sweet compliments on my photographs. I’m sure Bryce Canyon would welcome you with open arms.

  • Reply
    Susan R
    August 24, 2017 at 5:21 am

    I keep seeing Instagram photos of Antelope Canyon! How far in advance do you need to book the tour? All these places look amazing but I’d find Newspaper Rock the most fascinating to visit.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 24, 2017 at 9:41 am

      We booked our Antelope Canyon the day-of in Spring, and my best friend went last fall and she booked the day before. So, I would say not too far in advance. If I were going in the summer, I would call a few days ahead of time.

  • Reply
    Candy
    August 24, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    So much beauty in the Southwest!!! We are going to Antelope Canyon and Zion National Park next week and can’t wait. Great tip to be the first in line for Antelope Canyon. I definitely would like to experience it with a lesser crowd 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      I’m glad I could help you out with a tip! You guys will have a great time! Zion is one of my favorite parks out there!

  • Reply
    Claire 🌍 (@clairesturz)
    August 24, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Wow they are some epic landscapes! I’ve heard of most of these although not visited any of them! The Grand Canyon is obviously on my bucketlist but Antelope Canyon looks incredible, and those pyroglyphs too.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      They really are! You better get out to the Southwest 😉 When you’re in the region, you’ll want to see even more than the Grand Canyon. It’s awesome!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    August 24, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    These are really wonderful places and it is no surprise that you have fallen in love with the Southwest. I am sure this love affair will endure. I have never been to any of these places but have fallen head over heels in love with Arches National Park and Antelope Canyon, they look so surreal and exquisite.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      It’s really just out-of-this-world beauty in the Southwest. Thanks for commenting and reading!

  • Reply
    Natasha
    August 25, 2017 at 4:51 am

    I can totally see why! Your photos are gorgeous and each destination has something to love. I really need to get my butt in gear and visit more national parks next year 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you. Each does have their own beauty and something extra-special about it. Haha! Be sure to get a National Park Pass if you’re planning on getting to multiple parks in the year.

  • Reply
    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)
    August 26, 2017 at 10:05 am

    The American southwest is an area I’m really just starting to explore, and it is just fascinating! Antelope Canyon remains at the very top of that travel wish list. It’s so unusual that it almost feels as though it belongs on another planet. We really need to get planning to visit during the cooler months! Pinned. 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Ooh. Isn’t is just unreal? I love it the patterns and shapes of the SW. I have to ask where you’ve explored and what’s your favorite so far? I love hearing other people’s recommendations from the area! Thanks for reading, commenting and pinning! I really appreciate it!

  • Reply
    Jenn and Ed Coleman
    August 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    We just got back from Angles Landing in Zion and have almost an identical shot. It shows the passage of time now because that one lone pine tree has died and is a white skeleton of branches. Love the perspective on the Monument Valley shot.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Oh how awesome! Isn’t it quite the sight? I’m sad that the tree isn’t green anymore, but I do think the skeleton-like branches probably has its own beauty. Thank you very much. I hear there’s a sign there in MV now, but I haven’t been in almost 5 years now! Crazy…

  • Reply
    Kavey Favelle
    August 26, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    It’s such a beautiful part of the world. I visited with my family as a teenager and it’s one of the places I remember so clearly. We included the Grand Canyon, of course, plus Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley. I’d like to see more of the area, perhaps time to plan a return.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Isn’t it something that just sticks with you? Zion is the place that I first felt that wanderlust feeling, where I knew I was a traveler. You guys did quite a bit on your journey! I hope you enjoy your trip planning 😉

  • Reply
    Carol
    August 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    So, so, sooooo beautiful! We have a Moab post coming up. We think you’d like it 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      I’m sure I would. Moab is one of my top 3 favorite places on earth!

  • Reply
    Kate Brissette
    August 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    All of these look amazing! I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never made it to the American Southwest. It looks beautiful and I definitely need to plan a trip. Of course, the Grand Canyon would be high on my list. But all your photos make me want to go everywhere! Probably Arches and Monument Valley too for sure!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      August 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      Don’t be ashamed, just get planning 😉 Haha. Arches is something extremely special and while you’re there you have to hit up Canyonlands. They’re so close to each other!

  • Reply
    Emma McKay
    August 27, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Oh my goodness it is so beautiful in the Southwest. I’ve had a few of these places on my list for a while now and you’ve just added a bunch more. Havasu Canyon looks absolutely unreal!

  • Reply
    Danik
    August 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    The SW of USA has never really appealed to me that much but recently I have been checking out some travel blogs on the national parks (like this post) and now I want to visit this area more than the cities. Loving the tips and photos here and my lips are wet.

  • Reply
    100cobbledroads
    August 28, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    All of these places are surreal. I think the most attractive and unusual part of the continent lies wrapped up in the folds of these canyons and mountains. No wonder you are in love with the SouthWest. I would be too!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Made all the Difference
    August 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I am a little disappointed that Capital Reef didn’t make this list. It is such an amazing national park. Yet it is always overlooked.

  • Reply
    Jenna Kvidt
    August 30, 2017 at 12:52 am

    We love the southwest, too! So many amazing sights in a relatively close distance. We have been to several of these spots, but still have quite a few we need to visit. Havasu Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park are at the top of our list for the spots we have yet to see! Great round up of spots!

  • Reply
    Trisha Velarmino
    August 30, 2017 at 1:34 am

    They are all beautiful!!! I totally get it why Southwest is on top of your list of favorite places. Even computers and phones always have the Antelope for default background!

  • Reply
    Cai Dominguez
    September 1, 2017 at 7:18 am

    This place is so beautiful and looks out of this world and unreal. Great photos you give justice to its beauty. I super like the Bryce National park. Amazing!

  • Reply
    heatherhudak
    September 1, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    My family tries to get to Moab at least one a year to enjoy the 4-wheel-drivetrails–so much fun amid such amazing scenery. I would love to get to Havasu Canyon, too. Your photos of the red rock and turquoise waters really do make it look unreal–so pretty!

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