The Southwest is a land steeped in history, mysticism, and wonder. Its colorful, arid landscape has served as an ancestral home for Indigenous peoples for centuries and gained notoriety in the modern world while serving as a backdrop for everything from Hollywood Westerns to serene spa resorts, well-known national parks, annual festivals, and more.
The area boasts many protected natural lands worth visiting, and a road trip through this red rock utopia takes travelers past an array of bucket-list-worthy destinations. When mapping out your Southwest itinerary, be sure to allow plenty of time to take it all in and plot your course to these unforgettable locales.
Southwestern Midas locations
Midas wants to help you get ready for your summer road trip, starting with your vehicle. Our techs can run a completely free Closer Look Vehicle Check. This in-depth visual inspection lets you know what needs fixing now and what can wait, so you can hit the road with confidence.
Make the trip before the trip to Midas and get $20 off a full-synthetic oil change. Request your appointment at Midas.com.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
There are few more iconic sights in the U.S. than the Grand Canyon’s layered bands of red rock. This giant fissure spans four states, though the most revered and expansive views are found in Arizona, which is home to Grand Canyon National Park. Hikes here range from mild strolls around the rim to intense multi-day treks deep into the chasm. Or you can explore the area by helicopter, travel by mule, or even raft along the Colorado River on the canyon floor. No matter what path you choose, you’ll enjoy scenic and striking views of this geological wonder.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona and Utah
Featured in numerous Hollywood movies, from classic Westerns to Forrest Gump, Northern Arizona’s Monument Valley offers stunning views of towering sandstone buttes. The park’s attractive 17-mile Valley Drive offers epic views of the crimson landscape and takes visitors past many recognizable sights, including the aptly named Mitten Buttes. Here you’ll also find silversmiths, potters, and weavers who preserve traditional Navajo methods in their artwork, and artisans at roadside markets offer authentic Native American arts and crafts for sale.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico
Each October, the skies above New Mexico’s largest city come alive with vivid colors as hundreds of hot air balloons take flight during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This 9-day event features everything from balloon rides to drone shows, fireworks, chainsaw carving, and more. It’s a more-than-50-year tradition for the city, which has wind conditions and air temperatures that make it an ideal spot for taking flight. It’s the largest balloon festival in the world, and a visit during this special time of year is sure to evoke plenty of “oohs” and “aahs.”
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Breathtaking Antelope Canyon is widely regarded as one of the most stunning locations for professional and aspiring photographers alike to capture a pictorial work of art. The twisting turns of these red rock slot canyons create the perfect backdrop for the sun’s rays, which bounce and reflect in marvelous ways. The area features six separate slot canyons in all, with most visitors choosing to take in either “The Crack” (Upper Antelope Canyon) or “The Corkscrew” (Lower Antelope Canyon), either of which can only be accessed via a Navajo-guided tour.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
From the Rainbow Forest to the Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park is a high-desert geological dream. Full of colorful petrified wood, Hopi murals, paleontology exhibits, Ancestral Puebloan home ruins, petroglyphs, blue mesas, and even a rusty old Studebaker parked on old Route 66, this park is easy to see by car. Take in sweeping views of red rocks from scenic overlooks or set off on trails to get up close to the colorful landscape.
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
Taos Pueblo—the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark—has been continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years. These adobe buildings, located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, look relatively the same as they did when the first Spanish explorers arrived in Northern New Mexico in 1540. Numerous feasts and ceremonies occur at Taos Pueblo throughout the year, and travelers visiting in any season can browse the selection of local artwork for sale.
Cathedral Rock, Arizona
Travelers seeking a mystical getaway are drawn to Sedona, Arizona’s vortexes, a unique geological phenomenon believed to be a swirling center of energy that can produce a range of physical, emotional, and spiritual effects. Among the area’s magnetic vortexes, the towering Cathedral Rock is regarded as the most powerful. This natural sandstone butte dominates the skyline of the surrounding Coconino National Forest, and while it can be admired from any angle, many scramble up Cathedral Rock’s steep trail to meditate at the butte’s top.