The Southwest is packed with gorgeous geology and amazing natural phenomenons. While she is majestic, don’t let the Grand Canyon’s beauty overshadow what’s in store just down the road.
Make your Grand Canyon visit a road trip!
1. The Haunted Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon
The same erosive force that helped shape the Grand Canyon, coupled with some ferocious elevation, has sculpted some of the most beautiful hoodoos the world has ever seen. It is actually these fragile and unique beauties that attract over a million visitors annually.
If you’re not that much into ethereal stone statues hand-carved by Mother Nature herself, there’s also the Bryce Amphitheater. Also nature-made, the amphitheater is a horse-shoe shaped cavity, located center-stage in the park.
2. Lake Powell
Just like the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell offers a scenic escapade for every taste. With a handful of different bays and canyons, there’s a place for everyone to explore- and so much beauty to see!
3. Monument Valley
Monument Valley lies entirely within the Navajo Reservation and straddles the border of Arizona and Utah.
Quite literally a valley filled with geological monuments, it is one of the most iconic landscapes in the southwest.
4. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is home to some of the most famous lot-canyons as well as to the historic Navajo Nation.
Featuring some of the most photogenic desert scenery, Antelope Canyon is known mostly for Cathedral Canyon, a slot cave that plays a gorgeous light show that is almost magical in its perfection.
5. Zion National Park
A smaller canyon made outstanding by a unique clash of environments, Zion National Park is definitely somewhere you want to make a stop.
Created by three desert regions, the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau, Zion offers a ton of scenic opportunities.
Home to some of the most beautiful trails in the United States, including the inundated Narrows of the Virgin River trail, this is a place you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
6. Havasupai Reservation
Located in the southwestern corner of the Grand Canyon, Havasu Canyon is actually located entirely within the Havasupai Reservation.
The five waterfalls and turquoise waters of Havasu Falls is reason enough to visit Havasupai as part of your southwestern road-trip.
The best activity to do at Havasupai is hike along the waterfall trail. While it’s not officially called that, basically you want to hike to each waterfall, spend some time admiring the view and hike along to the next. If you’re hiking in the summer, the gorgeous turquoise water makes for a refreshing splashing hole.
7. Coral Pink Sand Dunes
A shifting landscape of pink and orange sand, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes actually change location each year, moving by about 50 feet (15 m) annually.
The Sand Dunes are an ancient phenomenon, aged 10,000 to 15,000 years old.
Especially convenient if your road-trip involves AVT-riding, the Sands are an expansive landscape open for exploration. This is the only place in the world where you’ll find the unique Coral Pink beetle (if you’re into insects)!
8. Grand Staircase National Park
The Grand Staircase is a a southwestern icon and not just because much of it has been featured in classic westerns.
With everything from slot canyons, slick rock, prehistoric ruins, and phenomenal scenic views, there is so much you can do here.
Because it is so diverse as well as scenic, the Grand Staircase offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, soaking up the views, and exploring.
9. Marble Canyon
Marble Canyon, devoid of any actual marble, is one of the great geological neighbors of the magnificent Grand Canyon.
Marble Canyon runs southwest of Lees Ferry for 60 miles (97 km) before marking the westernmost point at the beginning of Grand Canyon National Park.
Those of you planning a trip to the great gorge should make room for a side trip- believe me, there’s always room for more beauty and with its magnificent cliff walls and multicolored rock formations, Marble Canyon will be a gorgeous compliment to your adventure.
Mostly explored via rafting expeditions, Marble Canyon is known for spectacular fishing opportunities and gorgeous canyon views.
10. Vermilion Cliffs
If you happen to be driving to or from the Grand Canyon, you’ll find your vision filled with the southern boundaries of the Vermilion Cliffs.
The Vermillion Cliffs are the second “step” in the Grand Staircase. The cliffs are gorgeous to look at, but even better to camp amongst.
The Wave, a phenomenal undulating landscape made up of golden sandstone, is one of the most surreal scenes in the Southwest.