The Southwestern US is a treasure trove of great things to do and places to see. From the bright lights and glamor of Las Vegas to the many areas of natural beauty, the Southwest has it all.
This short article outlines some of the top things to do and some ideas for getting the most out of your trip.
The Grand Canyon
All trips to the Southwest begin and end with the Grand Canyon.
The amazing natural feature formed by the Colorado River is up to a mile deep at its deepest point and 18 miles across at its widest. The deep red and brown layered rocks also contribute to the stunningly unique appearance of the vast chasm.
With various vantage points and viewing spots, visitors can enjoy the Grand Canyon and surrounding National Park by car, bike, or foot. Hiking in the area is not for the faint-hearted, but the rewards and views are difficult to beat anywhere in the world. Depending on how long you plan to stay, many lodges and dwellings can be reserved and are a great way to unwind with a good meal and drinks after your day’s exertions.
The historic Route 66 is a great way of seeing the Southwest US. The ‘Main Street of America’ is no longer an official highway – but that is what makes it all the more special.
You can still drive long stretches of the old route that have been preserved. Many that have not also are well worth exploring, with fascinating derelict treasures and artifacts from years gone by that you can simply walk up to and explore. From the iconic Blue Whale of Catoosa to the ghostly Cadillac Ranch in the Amarillo Desert, the old road retains a huge sense of intrigue and is packed full of historical significance.
Driving the ‘Mother Road’ is a not-to-be-missed opportunity and is a great way of seeing the entire Southwest corner of the US.
The Meteor Crater is an example of a landmark not directly on Route 66, but it is close-by enough to be another must-see on your list.
While not as high profile as some other attractions in the Southwest, the crater was formed around 50,000 years ago and reached a depth of 170 meters while boasting a 1,200-meter diameter.
As well as making for fascinating viewing and a good hike around the outside, the crater has a visitor center containing a fragment of Holsinger meteorite that created it.
The giant feat of engineering built in the great depression is a breathtaking human-made marvel. Situated about 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is a must-see for engineering buffs and anyone generally fascinated by its size and scale.
The dam that provides energy for Nevada, Arizona, and the city of Los Angeles also creates the 115 miles, Lake Mead. On here you can enjoy a range of watersports such as water skiing and wakeboarding.
Back at the dam, you can also enjoy a visitor center and tours throughout the inner working of the dam’s hydroelectric plant.
Speaking of Las Vegas – from the Hoover Dam, head slightly northeast, and you come to America’s Playground. Las Vegas, famed for its casinos, entertainment, and bright lights, is truly like no other city.
The glitz and glamour of Vegas are worth a visit, even if you are not a gambling fan. Strolling the Strip is worth its weight in gold alone. And there’s also the High Roller coaster at the top of a skyscraper, paintball, and other adventure activities, and the Titanic exhibition to explore. Depending on your choice of hotel, there are many themes to explore and all kinds of shows and daytime entertainment.
Sequoia National Park
Getting back to nature after the bright lights and hectic thrills of Vegas, Sequoia National Park is a great place to unwind. The park, situated in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, is home to eye-catching large sequoia trees.
The huge General Sherman Tree stands at an amazing 83 meters tall, and even walking its 11-meter diameter is a trek! The park is also home to some stunning highs and lows. From the lows of the rock formations and underground streams in the Crystal Cave to the highs of the Moro Rock’s striking granite dome, the park never fails to disappoint. Hikers and mountain bikers will love the challenging but rewarding terrain of the park.
The park even used to feature a tree that could be driven through until a storm brought about its demise in 2017.