The American Southwest

The American Southwest Overview

This vast region spans a playground of thrilling landscapes – with deserts, towering sand monoliths, winding rivers, and red rock canyons at every turn. Gaze across Utah’s giant rock arches and vertiginous canyons, the cactus lands of Arizona and Navajo cliff dwellings, New Mexico’s stark white sand dunes and caves, all peppered with old west towns and the endless sagebrush of Nevada. This is the land of the world-famous Grand Canyon and of Wild West ghost towns like Tombstone and Jerome. Here can gaze upon natural wonders that date back millions of years, soak up the captivating beauty of the many national parks, explore colourful Las Vegas and its iconic hotels and then head to the panoramic vistas and blissfully secluded retreats of Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

The American Southwest is a patchwork of extreme desert landscapes and iconic National Parks such as Zion, and Bryce Canyon– all of which are kingdoms of amazing scenery and diverse wildlife – such as marmots, mule deer, wolves and black bears – while iconic landmarks such as Monument Valley offer unforgettable views. The region’s national parks are some of the most visited in the United States. Arches National Park in Utah is scattered with over 2,000 soaring natural stone arches. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico combines rocky slopes and swooping canyons with an underground treasure of 119 limestone caves. Great Basin National Park in Nevada boasts mountain vistas, desert solitude and the most spectacular of night skies. And the most famous of them all, Grand Canyon National Park stretches in awe-inspiring scale and beauty across the Colorado Plateau in Arizona.

An American Southwest holiday wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Grand Canyon. This 2 billion year-old wonder spans an incredible 200 miles across northern Arizona and is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Here you can hike to the deepest depths, glimpse the spectacular view from helicopter and try out Grand Canyon water rafting. A fly drive Grand Canyon tour is a great way to venture out to this fantastic location, and you can stop off at the must-see Hoover Dam and Route 66’s quirky town of Seligman on the way.

Everything is just a little bit hotter in America’s Southwest; summer temperatures in the desert regularly top 100 degrees and the local cuisine is spiced with plenty of fiery chillies. Mornings and late afternoons are the ideal time to appreciate the staggering beauty of the landscapes. The region features many fascinating corners of limitless beauty, unforgettable experiences and colourful multicultural heritage and history. It is the place to go for physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation. For those who love the great outdoors, no other region can offer so much excitement and fulfilment. With plenty of opportunity for hiking, biking, white water rafting, camping, star gazing, rock climbing and endless scenic drives – there’s something for everyone.

And the outdoor attractions don’t end there. Scottsdale is a golfing Mecca with over 200 courses and 330 days of sunshine annually. For the adventurous, there’s also skiing and water sports in Lake Tahoe or hot-air ballooning in Albuquerque. In fact, if you come during October, you’ll be treated to visual spectacle of Albuquerque’s annual International Balloon Fiesta. You can also truly immerse yourself in Native American culture in the South West states with the rock paintings at Canyon du Chelly and the guided Navajo tours of Monument Valley among the highlights.

If it’s history and multiculturalism you’re after, there’s plenty of surprise in store. Hidden among the mountains are ancient cliff side dwellings, petroglyphs and rock carvings, while the Old West lives on in old mining towns, such as Tombstone. The American Southwest is also home to descendants of Native American tribes who live on in pueblos and reservations. Clients looking to get a real feel for the Native American culture can find one of the largest collections of pueblo dwellings in Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. The Ancient Sky City of Acoma Pueblo is another gem. This village spans 70 acres and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in America.

The American Southwest is the ultimate getaway for anyone looking for an adventure of a lifetime and is the perfect backdrop to a perfectly tailored road-trip.

The American Southwest Highlights

Stand on a glass platform 2000 feet above the Grand Canyon

Be in awe at Antelope Canyon

Stay up late and stargaze

Photograph Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

See the acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform

Visit the Emerald Pools in Zion



Best Time to Visit The American Southwest

Arizona and New Mexico have a dry climate that is very hot and sunny between July and September while in winter; between November and March, there are pleasantly warm days and cold nights. The mountains are delightful to visit in July and August and although temperatures can get remarkably high; the Grand Canyon in particular gets very hot, often around 35°C (95°F). The national parks, particularly the Grand Canyon gets very busy during the summer months so are best visited in May, June, September or October.


Suggested Itineraries, Escorted Tours and Accommodation in The American Southwest

View our suggestions for what is possible when you travel in The American Southwest, and see itinerary routes and escorted tours we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

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