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Road trips are the true American way of having a vacation. If you want to explore this great nation, a road trip is by far the best way you could do it! But the big question is which route might satisfy your hunger for traveling?
The options are wide open – you could try out the New England and the East coast, or maybe a bit deeper into the South, some feel the Pacific Northwest is the real deal, some even try the old route 66 to feel the wild rush!
But there is one thing for sure – nothing beats the original American Southwest road trip when you want to combine everything! It’s raw, it’s natural, and the birthplace of everlasting beauties. Your journey will be blessed by the American deserts, the mountains, and some of the biggest and the best national parks – a camper’s heaven you might call it.
So, let’s get started with this Southwest road trip itinerary. Trust me; you will rediscover your inner soul in this mesmerizing journey!
American Southwest Road Trip: It All Starts from Sin City!
Las Vegas: The Journey Begins!
Our Southwest road trip map will start from the ever eluding land of casinos and fun – Las Vegas. We think this should be the starting point as you can find lots of cheap flights from across the country. Some could suggest starting the journey from Salt Lake City in Utah, but this plan is much less expensive. This journey will be a minimalistic one so that every one of you could afford it.
We would recommend you to plan the Southwest vacations during the colder season. Otherwise, the scorching heat of the deserts might kill the mood. Our first destination would be Zion. Don’t worry; we will get back to Vegas again in the end. It would be your grand finale.
You could camp out in St. George which is much closer to Vegas. Some even plan to stay in Springdale, a small town and a lot closer to the park. The idea is to stay the night in someplace in between from Vegas and Zion so that you could start for Zion early in the morning.
The hotels here have a beautiful mountain view that would speak of the whole journey that lies in front of you.
Zion is Calling You!
So, you have to an early bird here and hit the road as early as possible. It’s going to be a long day. It is a two to three-hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. The entry fee is just thirty bucks!
You will visit this colossal park in a free shuttle. You cannot roam around here in your private vehicle. The authority doesn’t want to disrupt the scenic beauty of this canyon with private vehicles. So, if by any chance you miss the first shuttle, you will have to wait for the next one to arrive – that’s the rule!
We would suggest you take this Southwest vacation in the early autumn. The park looks most majestic during this season.
There is a chance of intense hiking in this park – great news for the hikers indeed to push their limits. The rusty red mountains and the windy canyon could be dangerous for the newbies. So, should only try to attempt, if you have prior hiking experience. It’s not a place for the first-timers. Also, consult with the park rangers whether the weather is suitable enough for hiking.
But if you can hike, the park will seem like a land of paradise. The mountains will give you the true thrill of the American southwest road trip.
One of the biggest attractions of this park is the Angels Landing. It would take about four hours to complete this hike. The views of the Lower Emerald Pool will leave a nice scratch in your heart for sure.
Embrace the Beauty of Bryce!
On the third day, you will head to Bryce. You could take the Mount Carmel Highway because of the beautiful roads. The drive wouldn’t take more than one hour. This eighteen-mile drive has some of the most iconic scenic beauties like – the Rainbow Point, Inspiration Point, or the Natural Bridge.
The Bryce Canyon Nation Park offers some exquisite beauties. The rusty rocks with snow might just make your day. The Navajo Loop Trail might churn up the moods of the hiking lovers. The hike would take about two hours. Although, some suggest to do this hiking early in the morning as one shouldn’t miss the mystic foggy weather in the trail at dawn. Also, back-to-back hiking in Zion and Bryce might sore your muscles bad!
Finish the day with the elegant view at Sunset Point. Then you could camp out to stay at the Canyon hotel. You should miss the sunrise at Sunrise Point too!
Destination Moab: A Journey through the Goblin Valley
One of the biggest attractions of the American Southwest road trip is the Goblin Valley. You should add some sunscreen in your Southwest road trip packing list otherwise you will be sunburnt rather than being sun-kissed!
The journey to Moab is a long one through the Goblin Valley, but it is worth it. The rocky hoodoos look like the goblin heads. You could even take a break in the Capitol Reef National Park.
We have chosen to go to Moab as it could be your base for the next few nights.
The Canyonlands National Park
Do you want to witness the islands in the sky? You should better be at the Canyonlands National Park. Some visitors tend to overlook this beauty – we don’t know why?
The park also has another attraction point – the Needles. The Needles is another hiker’s paradise although these two places are sixty miles apart. You could mix up the day with a little bit of driving and hiking.
If you have a photographer’s heart, you must witness the sunrise in the Mesa Arch. The perfect yellowish-orange glow at dawn is simply out of this world.
Then there are the Grand View Point, the mysterious Upheaval Dome, and the Green River Overlook. Don’t overlook them as they would make your American Southwest road trip more glorifying.
Arches National Park: The Star of Utah!
Packed with over two thousand natural arches, cliffs, and pinnacles, this park has got all the visitors’ attention. Enjoy your day driving along the scenic road. The North Window Arch, the Park Avenue, the mighty Balanced Rock, Devil’s Garden, and the Double Arches will certainly make your day worth it!
The Valley of Gods
You should take a little detour and pay a visit to The Valley of Gods before going to Arizona. The sky-high rock formations, the texture, and the color of the rocks will make you take the detour.
The Horseshoe Bend: Nature’s Miracle!
If you camp in Page in Arizona, you can visit all the great spots with ease. Let’s start the journey in Arizona with the Horseshoe Bend. You will be stunned to see the great Colorado River making a large horseshoe-like shape in the canyons. What do we suggest? Sit near the cliff which is 1,100 feet high and enjoy the moment and think about how beautiful life can be.
The Antelope Canyon
Just after the visit of the Horseshoe Bend, you could amaze yourself with a tour to the Antelope Canyon. The canyon has two sections – upper and lower. Both are equally beautiful, mystic, and mesmerizing.
The Lake Powell: The Unforgettable Sunset Cruise
A sunset cruise in Lake Powell is a must in your American Southwest road trip. Rent a kayak or a paddleboat and cruise through this majestic blue lake. This cruise could become one of the most memorable sunset scenes in your life!
The Grand Canyon: The Grand Finishing of the Trip
Your trip will be unfinished you skip the great Grand Canyon. Start your journey with the North or the South Rim. The North Rim is closed during the winter. So, if you are planning a Southwest road trip winter, you could visit the South Rim.
Also, you could enjoy the view of Desert View, travel along Route 64, pay a visit to the Canyon Village, and the famous visitor center.
The view of the Mohave Point and the sunset at the Mather point will complete your journey in the Southwest.
The Concluding Thoughts
So, this was our version of the Southwest road trip itinerary. As we have said before, you could travel back to Las Vegas which is just a four-hour driving distance from the Grand Canyon. You should party in the sin city to celebrate your once in a lifetime journey in the Southwest.
So, what are you waiting for? Start packing your bags and hit the road. Life is calling for you!