Visit Some Of The Top Tourist Attractions In The Southwest On This Road Trip Route

The southwestern part of the U.S. makes a stunning backdrop for an epic summer or fall road trip. This one to two-week, approximately 1,000-mile trip starts at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, takes you through some of the most iconic sites in the region, and finishes up in Vegas. By that time, we imagine you'll be ready for a steamy shower, a cold beer, and a game or two of poker.

So buckle up that seatbelt, put on some tunes, and let's get going. Start by spending a few days at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Peer down into the enormous chasm that the Colorado River carved over millions of years. Walk along the rim to different viewpoints to see the canyon from various angles and watch the interplay of light and shadows on the rock formations as the sun moves overhead. If you're very fit, hike one of the south rim trails down into the canyon but be prepared for extreme conditions. Take more water and sunscreen than you think you'll need and leave your fear of heights at the hotel. When you've had your fill of the Grand Canyon (if that's even possible), head east and north to Page, AZ to see impressive Lake Powell, the country's second largest reservoir, which resulted from the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. The other must-see in Page is Antelope Canyon, a gorgeous slot canyon with narrow, undulating passageways that almost leave you speechless.

Eastern to western Utah

After leaving Page, you'll pass through Monument Valley, one of the most photographed places on the planet, whose majestic rock formations punctuate the desert near the Arizona–Utah border. Goodbye Arizona, hello Utah!

Further north into Utah, stop in Moab to enjoy a few hot meals and rest up before resuming your journey. You'll find a surprisingly wide selection of restaurants for a dusty desert town, and the Moab Brewery is an excellent place to quench your thirst. Next stop is Canyonlands National Park featuring more deep gorges carved by the Colorado River, the Southwest's most industrious sculptor. Check out the area of the park known as Island in the Sky, a high mesa with breathtaking panoramic overlooks. In the Needles district, explore the Joint Trail, which twists and turns through a maze of ravines and slickrock. The Chesler Park Loop and Joint Trail is a fabulous place for backpacking, just not in the summer when it's hot enough to fry eggs on a lizard's belly. This trail is also considered strenuous, so make sure you're prepared with adequate water and the appropriate gear. The next-door neighbor of Canyonlands is Arches National Park, which has more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches — the highest concentration in the world. Whether you're a novice or a professional, this is an incredible place to play with your camera, as the arches cast strange shadows and contrast sharply with the deep blue sky.

Bryce and Zion National Parks to Vegas

After you leave Arches, head west toward Goblin Valley State Park, an eerie place with thousands of mushroom-shaped rock formations that look like lurking goblins. If you dare to spend the night, the park does have a campground. Maybe best to avoid sleeping here when there's a full moon? Coyote howls in the distance... Keep driving west and slightly south to Bryce Canyon National Park, where you'll be greeted by the "hoodoos," the goblins' taller and thinner cousins. Like many other rocks in this region, the surreal hoodoos are the products of the erosional forces of wind, water, and ice on sandstone. All of the strange shapes in this park make it another spectacular place to play with your camera.

From Bryce, drive south a few hours to Zion National Park, the grand finale of your Southwestern road trip. This is the Disney Land of red rock country warranting at least a few days of exploration. The park is known for its deep, narrow (surprise!) canyons, some of whose sheer walls tower 2,000 feet above the canyon floor. The park is also knows for its intriguing rock formations, such as the Great White Throne, Checkerboard Mesa, and the Three Patriarchs. For a final stretch of your legs, hike the unforgettable Narrows. This classic Southwestern canyoneering adventure involves walking a paved and accessible path in a deep canyon for one mile and then sloshing through the Virgin River as you continue up the gorge. From Zion, it's a little more than a two-hour drive to Vegas, where you are free to return to civilization, if you so desire. Hope you enjoyed the ride.