If you desire to experience breathtaking landscapes in areas of mournful beauty amid desolate
vistas, the American Southwest is waiting for you. If you are excited
by unusual landscapes, mountains, valleys, canyons, buttes,
deserts and unusual geological formations, it is hard to imagine
anywhere else with so much diversity within as beautiful an environment.
grandeur of the National Parks in the southwest of the United States has
to been seen to be appreciated. The skies in the southwest of the
United States are unusually clear and incredibly blue. The
sunrises and sunsets always appear tinged with reds, pinks and colors
you may not have noticed before. The air feels crisp and the temperature
lets you know what time of day it is in a hurry.
It is the larger-than-life landscapes, however, that let you know
that this region is quite unusual. Indeed, the uniqueness of
southwest can only be measured on a worldwide scale and it becomes
more obvious with the passage of time that the National Parks of the
American Southwest are something special. We urge you to
read along and explore the nine national parks of the southwest that we
recommend you visit.
Courtesy National Park Service
Our notion of the American Southwest runs from southern Colorado into California and includes parts of New, Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada
. Some would question our adding California to the mix, but we think that Death
Valley is a worthy site that seems to belong with the other parks in
the Southwest. In addition, purists will likely be unhappy with us, but we
cover only the National Parks (and a few National Monuments) that are easy to
explore and do not necessarily require a Jeep or a four-wheel drive vehicle to
access the attraction. In addition, our recommended national parks offer
accommodations or are near towns that do, rather than requiring camping, though camping is always an option if you
While there are a number of large and unique cities in this region
(Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, we do not focus on
the metropolitan areas here, as the uniqueness in the American Southwest lays in
the countryside, not in its urban environments.
When seen on a
map, the National Parks of the American Southwest
appear close together, but that is the map view and not reality. The distances between parks
are often significant. Further, driving times in this section of the United States can be
to road conditions, speed limits and the large number of stops you will
make to see yet another unusual attraction.
There is no need to see all of the parks we recommend on one "grand
tour", although a number of them cluster into “doable –sized” groups
that can easily be visited as a collection. Other parks are quite remote
and are best seen when visiting someplace else, as in touring the Grand
Canyon or Death Valley when visiting Las Vegas. We have added a
feature on the edges of the pages where we describe the parks in detail
that includes combinations of parks that might be of interest.
more note, before we start our tour. The American Southwest is hospitable in the
spring and fall. It can be incredibly hot during the summer and travel
in the desert during this period of the year can be dangerous, if you
are not prepared.
of the parks we recommend are located in true deserts and you need to be prepared
to tour them. Conversely, in winter some of these areas can be
cold, wet, snowy and almost as inhospitable as the summer. Indeed, areas
in some parks are closed for portions of the winter due to
accessibility issues. Always check-in at the park headquarters to
start your exploration, as the staff will be able to provide information that
will help make your journey much more enjoyable and help insure your
The definitive source of information for the National Park system in
the United States is the National Park Service and we highly recommend
website for current information on all of the parks they
manage. However, we think you will find our guide
easy-to-navigate, filled with interesting insight and organized to help
you decide if one of the parks we recommend is for you. Once you
have selected a park to visit, check in on the NPS website for that park
for further information (we provide the links in the pages where we
describe the parks in detail).
To help you get started, we have created a one-page guide to all of
the parks we recommend. This one-page provides a concise overview,
a photo and a link to the pages where we describe each park in
detail. Click this link for our Quick-Guide covering the
The Best National Parks in the American Southwest.