The Southwest is a playground for outdoor adventurers, with its dramatic rock formations like spires, arches and hoodoos mirroring the architecture of childhood joy. But it’s not all fun and games—the region is also the seat of a rich human heritage, from its vibrant indigenous cultures to the trendy artistic scenes of Taos and Sedona. This iconic American landscape stretches from the Mojave Desert in California all the way to New Mexico, encompassing much of Arizona, Nevada and Utah along the way. It may be known as arid desert country, but there’s no drought of fun here! Read on to discover five reasons why this region should feature prominently on the bucket list of any active adventurer.
There’s something special about the landscapes of the Southwest. They’re otherworldly, and if they look familiar, don’t be surprised—from the sandstone arches of Utah to the meandering banks of the Colorado River, Hollywood and the Southwest have a long relationship. Some of the most iconic vistas include, of course, the Grand Canyon, the red rocks of Sedona and the spires, hoodoos and canyons of Bryce & Zion—but even in the most modest state park or back road, the iconic aesthetic of the region shines through.
The beauty and natural wealth of the Southwest have attracted settlers for tens of thousands of years, beginning with the area’s earliest indigenous communities. Today, the fascinating history of those early Southwesterners is on display in places like Sedona. Alongside it comes the region’s more modern history, from its days as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and Mexico to the bank robbers and bandits of the Wild West to its contemporary culture of Chicano art and outdoor adventurers. So whether you’re looking to learn about ancient Southwesterners or meet some modern ones out on the town, you’re in luck.
The Southwest is home to some of the best food north of the border. From the iconic chiles of New Mexico to delicacies like paletas and raspados that help beat the summer heat, the regional specialty here is a Mexican-American creole, combining the palates of both nations into a delicious, nutritious cuisine. Gone are the days when cowboys would survive on salt pork and tough steak—today, the region is a mecca for foodies, with thriving restaurant scenes in places like Tucson and Taos attesting to the mouthwatering appeal of the Southwest’s unique blend of Mexican, American and indigenous influences.
For those of us accustomed to long, snowy winters, the Southwest can seem like the promised land. With mild weather in the winter, and perfect temperatures in the fall and spring shoulder seasons, the Southwest is a great place to extend, or start early, your season of riding or hiking. Pick a low-altitude destination like Tucson, Arizona for true outdoor fun in the winter, or go for a New Mexico or Death Valley shoulder-season adventure. Either way, you’ll discover a world of off-season hiking and biking that’ll make you realize what you’ve been missing!
Unlike other warm-weather off-season getaways like Hawaii or Costa Rica, the Southwest is just a quick flight—or a medium-length drive—away for most of us. That makes it perfect for a low-stress getaway, a quick trip or a spontaneous outdoor adventure. So if you’re looking for an easy escape this spring, winter or fall, take a spicy trip to the Southwest—you won’t be disappointed!
Intrigued? Click here to discover Backroads Southwest Trips. We hope to see you in the sunny Southwest soon!