In partnership with Midas

Hidden treasures in the West to add to your next road trip

Break away from the crowds without sacrificing the adventure at these lesser-known attractions

Katmai National Park in Alaska.

The biggest crowds don’t always indicate the best attractions. In fact, some of the West’s most stunning destinations are also this region’s best-kept secrets. Pink sands, red rocks, otherworldly scenery, and towering geologic formations are just a few of the things you’ll find when seeking hidden treasures from Alaska to Colorado. If you want to skip out on the crowds—but still have an epic adventure—this journey will take you to the many unique natural landscapes that exist in the Western region of the U.S.  

Plan your next road trip around these less-crowded locations in the West. 

Western Midas locations

Midas wants to help you get ready for your 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. 

Map showing all Midas locations in the West

Wooded trail leading into a forest at Pfeiffer Big Sur
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in California.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California

Sitting just off of historic Highway 1 in California, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the perfect place to explore the area’s diverse landscapes, ranging from rivers and forests to waterfalls and the park’s Santa Lucia Mountains. With a variety of hiking trails, you can choose from short, easy treks to multi-day adventures and everything in between. 

This park is also minutes away from beach access, less than 15 miles from the famous Bixby Bridge, and a short distance from several other parks and outdoor recreation areas. Whether you’re looking for a campsite or just a quick day trip experience, Pfeiffer Big Sur is a must when traveling along the cliffs of Highway 1.

Roadway leading through a desert landscape of red rock formations
Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

There’s more to Nevada than casinos and neon lights. With two national parks, 13 state parks, historic trails, and national recreation areas, it’s easy to explore the state’s sprawling desert landscape, pine-filled forests, caves, and fossil beds. Valley of Fire State Park offers stunning views of red, Aztec sandstone formations, slot canyons, zebra-striped rocks, and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. 

This is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, encompassing nearly 40,000 acres of land. While camping is popular here (and an amazing way to stargaze), you can also catch the scenery with a drive through the park or a quick day trip to hike or catch a guided tour. Valley of Fire is only 50 miles from the Las Vegas Strip and is less than 2.5 hours from Zion National Park, making it a perfect stop going to or from other major attractions.

Pink sand dunes with a blue sky background
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah | Photo: Samantha Lechlitner-Lewis

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah 

Go off-roading, sledding, sandboarding, or hiking through Utah’s Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park’s vast sea of pink-hued sand. With 90 percent of the dunes open for off-highway vehicles, this park is a popular attraction for ATV riders, and there are even guided tours offered in the park by Coral Pink ATV Tours. 

Bring your own sled or sandboard to surf down the towering dunes, just like you would do on a snow-covered hill. It’s also a great place to camp, although it can get noisy with all of the excited ATV enthusiasts. You’re also within proximity to three major national parks: Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion.

Rock and lava formations near a mountainous region at sunset
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Idaho 

One of the weirdest natural landscapes in the U.S. can be found in Idaho. Craters of the Moon has the largest lava field of its type in the lower 48 states, with an aesthetic akin to the surface of the moon. Shaped by volcanic eruptions, visitors will encounter lava cones, volcanic rock formations and craters, lava tube caves, and even patches of vegetation (known as kipukas) that managed to remain untouched by lava flow. 

Drive the 7-mile Loop Road for a scenic trek showcasing many of the land’s popular attractions, hike to the different lava tubes and up volcanic cones, or go on an overnight backpacking adventure through the Craters of the Moon Wilderness for an epic stargazing opportunity. No matter how you explore Craters of the Moon, this destination offers an unforgettable, otherworldly experience you don’t want to miss.

Large, monolith-like rock formation in a plain area
Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Have a close encounter of your own kind with this massive geologic monolith protruding from the prairie lands of Wyoming. Pictured in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower was the first designated national monument in the U.S. Many Indigenous tribes in the Great Plains and the Black Hills consider the 867-foot formation a sacred place, and historical records show that the site was once used for vision quests, ceremonies, and winter camps. 

Visitors are drawn to explore this natural wonder, often hiking for a closer look at the Tower. There are also many trails leading through other areas of the public land and a visitor center where you can learn about the monument’s history and culture.

Outdoor amphitheater built into a red rock formation in Colorado
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in Colorado.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado

Concert or not, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is definitely a must-visit attraction when traveling through Colorado. The iconic venue is built into the park’s surrounding sandstone rock formations, creating an open-air amphitheater for a one-of-a-kind musical experience. But you don’t have to buy a concert ticket to explore this geologic venue. 

Red Rocks is a popular destination for runners, hikers, and those just wanting to stop by to take a look at the incredible views. There’s also a variety of events held at the park throughout the year, ranging from yoga classes to movie nights. Managed by Denver Mountain Parks, Red Rocks has several trails where you can traverse the area’s beautiful redstone ridges and outcrops.

Two bear cubs walking near a lake with two sea planes in the background
Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

If you’re looking for big bear energy, look no further than Katmai National Park and Preserve. Located in southern Alaska, this park is known for its wild terrain, abundance of salmon, and its dense brown bear population. You can even spend the day bear-watching, especially in popular areas of the park like Brooks Camp. 

Katmai is home to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a landscape carved by the eruption of Novarupta, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. You can kayak and fish the park’s freshwater streams and rivers, hike and camp in the area’s backcountry wilderness, and take in Katmai’s majestic views on a guided plane tour. While this national park might be less accessible than other destinations, it offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in protected, undisturbed natural landscapes.