The most uncultivated, natural, and rocky terrain of the United States, the southwest region attracts millions of tourists every year to its natural wonders and national parks. From Colorado to Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and western Texas, the southwest is a veritable wonderland of artistically rendered natural features. For an unparalleled group adventure into the great outdoors, head to the American southwest.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon pulls in over five million visitors every year. Its immense size and geological beauty overwhelm visitors, hypnotizing them with its grandeur. As the Grand Canyon is so massive, touring its entirety would take more than a few days. Instead, visit the South or North Rim visitors center to pick up maps and then make your way to the lookout points along the canyon's edge. If you're really adventurous, take the tour down into the canyon itself.
Located in the Guadalupe Mountains of southern New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns centers around the show cave of the same name. Beneath the earth's surface lies at least 119 recorded caves, formed from sulfuric acid as it dissolved the limestone rock over thousands of years. Visitors have the option of touring the caves on their own or going with a guide. Guided tours lead you through cavernous rooms like the King's Palace, Spider Cave, and the Hall of the White Giant while self-guided tours allow access into the Big Room and Natural Entrance trails.
Arches National Park
Notable for its expansive territory, spectacular stargazing spots, and the natural arches that run through the park, Arches National Park is large enough to get lost in and so beautiful you might not care. A red rock paradise, Arches is the perfect destination for any outdoor experience. Hike along the many informational sightseeing trails, camp at Devils Garden, horseback ride or rock climb, or even take the 18-mile scenic auto tour around the park.
Zion National Park
From the skyscraper limestone cliffs and canyon walls to the lush canyon floors covered in abundant growth, triumphant waterfalls cutting through the rock, and magnificent rivers, Zion National Park is as diverse a landscape as it is beautiful. With such a variety of terrain, Zion can be difficult to manage. Follow along the trails and hike in the park's most popular area, the Narrows, a shallow river flowing through a canyon gorge reaching up 1,000 feet in places. If you are more adventurous, hike to the top of Angels Landing and look down on vistas of pink and cream limestone under the golden Utah sun.
Reportedly the largest collection of pueblo dwellings in the United States, Taos Pueblo is a New Mexico treasure conserving Native American heritage. The pueblo homes have been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years, dating back to the Taos tribe that built the site before Columbus landed in the New World. As the dwellings look much like they did centuries ago, visiting Taos Pueblo is like stepping back in time. Taos Pueblo offers tours of the site and ruins, a working restaurant and bakery, and more for visitors.
This scenic region in the Colorado Plateau is notable for its geological wonders rising from the otherwise flat landscape. The grand sandstone buttes reach as high as 1,000 feet above the valley floor, striking a grand pose for beautiful pictures. While it is a popular destination for a drive through scenery, visitors can stop at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a working reservation where you can learn about the significance of Monument Valley to the Navajo people.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Located outside Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is an amazing and ethereal geological formation created millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions. These tent-shaped tuffs of white rock, capped with large protective pointed boulders, appear utterly unreal. Hike the trails and see the tent rocks and then make your way through the scenic slot canyons. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
One of the Spanish Catholic Missions of San Antonio, the Alamo is remembered as the site of a 13-day standoff between a handful of brave Texans and the army of General Santa Anna. Though the Alamo fell after that noble stand, it is today a World Heritage Site, standing as a symbol of bravery, liberty, perseverance, and the American spirit. Visit the Alamo and learn about the history of the brave few who stood against an entire army, and about the Mexican-American War.
San Xavier Del Bac
A historic Spanish Catholic Mission, San Xavier Del Bac dates back to the late 18th century. Located just outside of downtown Tuscon, Arizona, San Xavier is an amazingly preserved slice of history and architecture. The grandeur of the white stone facade and original statuary within the church allow visitors to truly step back in time. San Xavier is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and to this day remains a working parish center, ministering and serving the public.
Though it's not quite a natural wonder, the Las Vegas Strip at night is something to behold. Shining like a neon beacon of excitement, the Strip can be seen from space. It's also a destination of a wide variety. Visit the Freemont Street Experience to get a taste of old Vegas, tour the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to see massive sculptures and lush gardens, or check out the Pinball Hall of Fame where you can find pinball machines from every era of gaming.