The Grand Canyon may be one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. (and for good reason), but there’s much more to see of the American Southwest. We recently visited on Trafalgar’s eight-day Trailblazer tour (from $1,975 pp) and recommend making time to see these other breathtaking sights.
The Grand Canyon may be one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. (and for good reason), but there’s much more to see of the American Southwest. We recently visited on Trafalgar’s eight-day Trailblazer tour (from $1,975 pp) and recommend making time to see these other breathtaking sights.12
Simply put, Sedona is magical. It's visually stunning and is swirling with sacred, healing energy. Spend a day in one of its many spas, shops, or galleries; or stay outside and get in touch with nature. With a mild climate and 300+ miles of trails, Sedona is a hiker’s paradise. You can also slip and slide (and swim) amongst the rust-colored rocks at Slide Rock State Park.
There are many ways to explore Sedona’s postcard-worthy red rocks. Red Rock Jeep Tours offers a variety of off-road adventures through the surrounding area. Their Canyons and Cowboys tour heads through the Sonoran Desert and into the Dry Creek Basin. It’s about 1.5 to 2 hours and is $69 pp plus tax. You can add a 25-minute helicopter ride to see the sights from above for $239 pp.
Channel your inner John Wayne with a visit to Monument Valley. A frequent filming location for old-fashioned westerns, the red sandstone desert on the Arizona-Utah border of the Colorado Plateau is home to striking rock formations that seem to erupt from the surrounding flatland. The Mittens—pictured above—are two of several iconic buttes and mesas in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
Wind your way through a 17-mile loop of the park, viewing all of the most iconic monuments, in a private vehicle or on a guided tour. It's $20 per car or $10 for an individual walk-in pass. Goulding’s Monument Valley Lodge and Tours offers half-day ($62 pp) and full-day tours ($140 pp) in open-air trucks with local Navajo guides—the park is within the 16-million-acre Navajo Reservation.
The Lake Powell Resort and Marina (from $205/night in summer, $135/night in fall) is the perfect home base for exploring the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Whether you want to lounge by the pool, rent a houseboat for a multi-day trip, or see the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, this manmade lake is the place to start. Boat tours, kayaking excursions, and river cruises are also popular.
Glen Canyon, in Arizona and Utah's Vermillion Cliffs, is—like the Grand Canyon—naturally carved by the Colorado River. Enjoy the scenery with a leisurely 15-mile float downriver, starting at the base of the Glen Canyon Dam. You'll stop at Petroglyph Beach and cruise through Horseshoe Bend before disembarking at Lee’s Ferry. Wilderness River Adventures offers half- and full-day trips from $93 pp.
You could say that Horseshoe Bend is Insta-famous: More than a million people visit each year, and #horseshoebend has 300,000+ posts. High above the Colorado River near the Grand Canyon in the Glen Canyon NRA, it's free to visit but getting there is the challenge. From Page, pay $40 for a ride (Buggy Taxi is the only game in town) and hike a half-mile from the parking lot.
Another social media favorite, Antelope Canyon, near Page, AZ, has been called a natural marvel and an outdoor cathedral. Millions of years of water erosion have carved the canyon walls, which climb 120 feet up the red sandstone slot canyon. Guided tours are the only way to go. Chief Tsosie’s tours are $58 to $78 pp depending on the time of day. Bonus: The Navajo guides are phone photography pros.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a place you have to see to believe. In southwest Utah, it spans more than 35,000 acres and sits, in spots, at 9,000 feet above sea level. It’s home to the largest collection of hoodoos—statuesque rocks shaped by weather and erosion—and several backcountry and day hikes. Try the Navajo Trail (pictured), a 1.3-mile loop from Sunset Point into the Bryce Amphitheater.
Moderate temperatures make summer a popular time to visit Bryce—thanks to its elevation—but it’s less crowded in fall and spring. (You’ll likely see the park covered in snow in the winter.) Like several other U.S. National Parks, a seven-day entrance pass is $35 for private vehicles and $20 pp if arriving on foot or by bike. Park admission is included on group tours with companies like Trafalgar.
In Southwestern Utah, about 70 miles from Bryce Canyon, you’ll find Zion—229 square miles of magnificent wilderness. Most of the park’s trails and attractions can be found within Zion Canyon (pictured), which stretches 15 miles long and a half-mile deep and are connected by a scenic drive and free shuttle route. Park admission is also $35 per car for a seven-day pass.
Zion is hands-down one of the best parks in the region for hiking, with everything from half-hour treks to multi-day expeditions for all ability levels. Adventurous hikers will love two of its most iconic—and strenuous—trails: Angels Landing (5.4 mi) and The Narrows (16 mi, pictured), a slot canyon still being cut by the Virgin River. You'll hike through the flowing river, so dress accordingly.