Forget any images you may have of a flat sandy desert. The Southwest is an enchanting place of red rock canyons, rugged mountains, blooming desert flowers and star-filled night skies. Not to a mention a captivating open book on the past peoples of this land.
Although known for its arid climate, the Southwest is an incredibly diverse region. The southern borderlands of Arizona and New Mexico form a large part of the Sonoran Desert. Towering Saguaro Cacti, distant mountain ranges and Spanish architecture, all conjure images of the ‘Wild West’ of a classic John Wayne movie. Following the Rio Grande through Texas, you’ll pass through the majestic mountains and canyons of Big Bend National Park with the unique modern art outpost of Marfa nearby.
New Mexico is an absolute gem, with a culture that is a fascinating mix of its Native American, Spanish and white settler past. Turquoise skies, sandstone canyons and snow capped peaks make for a stunning landscape. Driving the mountain roads around Santa Fe and Taos, with their adobe buildings, Spanish churches, rows of chilis drying in the sun and sweet smelling piñon smoke, it’s easy to forget you’re in the United States. A holiday to New Mexico is sure to surprise you.
Northern Arizona’s most famous attraction needs no introduction but there is more to this state than the Grand Canyon. With Route 66 running its width, it’s tailor-made for the quintessential American road trip. Large swathes of Arizona are part of the Navajo Nation, one of the largest tribal territories in the country. Places like Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly are spectacular and show tantalizing traces of an ancient Puebloan culture that predates even the Navajo.
Utah can lay claim to some of the most dramatic natural scenery in America and no state can boast such a wealth of national parks and wilderness areas. Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef are all part of the geological wonder that is the Colorado Plateau but that is where most of the similarities end. Whether it’s short trails to incredible viewpoints or some serious adventure, a holiday to Utah has it all.