Jen Tenzer is sharing her highway journey itinerary for the Southwestern area of the USA!
The American Southwest is a completely beautiful setting for a highway journey and provides an unparalleled mixture of attractive pink rock views, nationwide park mountain climbing, mysticism, scrumptious (typically spicy!) meals, and a wealthy tradition steeped in Mexican and Native American historical past.
The dry warmth makes it a perfect place to go to within the fall and spring months while you’re on the lookout for a break from colder climates. Don’t overlook, temperatures attain effectively over 100 levels in the summertime and the desert can nonetheless get snow in February!
This 2-week itinerary captures among the better of the Southwest, together with adventurous actions, nature walks, alternatives to unwind, foodie locations, and cultural sights.
The journey begins in Arizona, travels by way of New Mexico, and ends in Utah. You might simply journey this itinerary within the reverse course and/or modify it to incorporate extra of Utah’s “Mighty 5” Nationwide Parks. There are some non-compulsory aspect journeys in case you might have extra journey time!
Right here’s the last word Southwest USA highway journey itinerary!
Southwest Street Journey Highlights
- Day 1: Arrive in Tuscon or Phoenix
- Day 2-3: Sedona, Arizona
- Day 4-5: The Grand Canyon
- Day 6-8: Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Day 9-12: Moab, Utah
- Day 13-14: Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah
Day 1: Arrive in Tucson or Phoenix
This journey begins in both Tucson or Phoenix relying on comfort and makes use of both main metropolis as extra of a launchpad than a vacation spot.
That being mentioned, I’d extremely suggest trying out Saguaro Nationwide Park simply exterior Tucson and/or mountain climbing Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.
Both metropolis is a implausible introduction to the surroundings and total laid again angle of the Southwestern U.S.
Additionally, for those who’re trying so as to add a little bit of luxurious to your highway journey, each of those cities have attractive resorts the place you’ll be able to indulge! Begin your journey with some spa time at Miraval Resort exterior Tucson or on the Phoenician in Scottsdale; it’s the proper option to start a digital detox throughout your travels.
After you’ve melted into these well-deserved wind-in-your-hair vibes, drive the ~2 hours from Phoenix or ~3.5 hours from Tucson north to Sedona.
Day 2-3: Discover Sedona
Sedona is an lovable and mystical city set in the midst of the Arizona desert. It actually fits all appetites!
There are 200+ mountain climbing trails surrounding the Sedona space. Slide Rock State Park is a good place for mountain climbing that may additionally double as your tenting spot; simply make sure that to order a campsite prematurely.
Vortexes of Sedona
Among the city’s most well-known mountain climbing trails, like Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, journey by way of Sedona’s famed non secular vortexes.
Whereas I’m no professional on vortexes, they’re believed to be particular areas on Earth the place there’s a swirling condensed middle of non secular vitality. The Native People acknowledged the ability of those locations and infrequently used them for sacred ceremonies.
Other than mountain climbing to them, you’ll be able to expertise Sedona’s vortexes by way of guided yoga and meditation lessons out on the pink rocks or from above in a dawn scorching air balloon journey. Even their native airport is an vitality vortex you’ll be able to go to!
What to Do + See in Downtown Sedona
Don’t overlook to carve out a while to wander across the strip of downtown shops, which mirror this identical woo-woo theme. Cute retailers show attractive crystals within the home windows and there are a lot of non secular healers accessible for service from psychic mediums to reiki healers.
I even had my aura learn whereas in Sedona! (In case you’re curious, my aura is vivid yellow and inexperienced with white mild on the crown of my head.)
If the spirituality factor isn’t your jam, I’d extremely suggest popping right into a hidden gem known as Blackbird Classic, proper off the principle drag in Sedona. The store homeowners have curated a high-quality assortment of classic Levi denims, rock and roll tees, and different distinctive equipment.
Personally, I couldn’t resist a 1984 AC/DC tour t-shirt! (Try their Etsy store to see if something new has are available in, too!)
Where to Eat in Sedona
When you need to break away from the heat, a cold-pressed juice from Local Juicery is simply what the physician ordered. In addition they have a wide range of colourful smoothies, salads, and bowls – all yummy!
Day 4-5: Discover the Grand Canyon
The place to Keep on the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon’s South Rim is about 2 hours north of Sedona. You’ve fairly a couple of choices on the place to arrange base camp in your canyon explorations.
Throughout the park, there are quite a few tenting choices on the rim, in addition to inns run by the park—like The Grand Hotel and El Tovar. When you’re trying to keep down within the canyon, there are extra tenting websites you’ll be able to reserve in addition to one other park run lodging choice known as Phantom Ranch.
Simply be conscious that any Grand Canyon Nationwide Park lodging choices typically ebook up roughly a 12 months prematurely!
When you don’t have that sort of superior discover, there are many resort choices positioned exterior the park in Tusayan (~10 minutes drive), Williams (~1 hour) and Flagstaff (~1.5 hours). Tusayan is closest to the Grand Canyon, however is a really small city with out many different sights or eating places.
Flagstaff is a bigger school city with a number of eating places, breweries, retailers, and different actions (like seeing petroglyphs at close by Walnut Canyon), however is an additional drive from the park. Williams is a small historic city on previous Route 66 that falls someplace in the midst of these two when it comes to measurement and distance.
What to Do on the Grand Canyon
You’ll seemingly need 2 full days to discover the Grand Canyon itself. Don’t underestimate the issue of the hikes, notably for those who go to throughout heat months!
As a result of the canyon hikes are out-and-back, it’s type of a reverse mountain; you find yourself with a tough, uphill battle after you’ve already burned by way of half the path. For that cause, the rangers strongly discourage mountain climbing from the rim to the river and again in a single day.
Plan on both mountain climbing right down to the river and staying someplace within the canyon in a single day or mountain climbing solely a portion of the path and again as much as the rim. There are numerous stop-off vistas with water sources and loos that make for wonderful turnaround factors.
I liked mountain climbing each the favored South Kaibab Path and Brilliant Angel Trails, however was very joyful that I rotated after 2-Three miles to go again as much as the rim!
When you have some additional time to kill earlier than heading out of northern Arizona, positively try Havasu Falls, Antelope Canyon, and/or Monument Valley as extra aspect journeys!
The crater is very large at 700 toes deep and three/Four mile extensive.
Day 6: Drive to Santa Fe
The drive from the Grand Canyon to Santa Fe is prolonged at about ~7 hours, so you must assume this drive eats up a full day of journey. That being mentioned, there are many stops alongside I-40 to take advantage of it!
For starters, about an hour east of Flagstaff is Meteor Crater the place you’ll be able to see the impression stays of a meteor that crashed to earth 50,000 years in the past. The crater is very large at 700 toes deep and ¾ mile extensive.
It was used as a coaching web site for the Apollo missions due to its similarity to the moon’s floor. Fairly neat and one thing you in all probability received’t see once more given it’s in the midst of the desert!
Make a Pit Cease in Winslow, Arizona
One other enjoyable touristy pit cease to refill on fuel and meals is Winslow, Arizona. This small city was made well-known from the 1972 Eagles’ hit “Take it Straightforward” with the lyrics:
“Now I’m a-standin’ on the nook in Winslow, Arizona
With such a fantastic sight to see
It’s a woman, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me”
Throughout the road out of your flatbed Ford picture op is Relic Street Brewing the place you’ll be able to pair a stable beer and burger earlier than persevering with alongside I-40.
Painted Desert + Petrified Forest
Lastly, spend a few hours trying out the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest Nationwide Park the place you’ll be able to see historical dinosaur-era crystallized logs and gradient-colored teepee mountains.
All of those stops stay en path to your subsequent Southwestern vacation spot!
Day 7-8: Discover Santa Fe
Welcome to New Mexico! From the second you pull into Santa Fe and see its stunning Pueblo-style structure, you realize you’ve reached someplace particular. The city is wealthy with Mexican and Native American tradition.
An incredible option to begin your day in Santa Fe is on the Sage Bakehouse the place you’ll be able to pattern their scrumptious artisan bread loaves, pastries, sandwiches, and quiches with an enormous cup of espresso. I completely liked their do-it-yourself peach preserves atop some crusty sourdough!
You might spend hours wandering the tiny streets and retailers of Santa Fe selecting up excellent items – I scored a really distinctive Mexican blanket, native salsa, and a painted silk scarf which have been all absolute hits with family and friends.
Santa Fe can also be an artwork lover’s dream with a number of native galleries and museums, together with the Museum of Worldwide People Artwork and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.
The place to Eat + Drink in Santa Fe
After an extended day of strolling round, seize a cocktail and a seat with a view at The Bell Tower Bar, a rooftop bar inside La Fonda resort close to the principle sq..
Santa Fe’s scrumptious meals scene carries by way of to dinner. I’d extremely suggest La Choza Restaurant to attempt NM’s famed pink and inexperienced chili tacos. When you’re within the temper for Indian meals, Paper Dosa is excellent – foodies actually can’t go incorrect on this city.
Different common spots embrace Trendy Common Feed and Seed, Paloma Restaurant, and The Pantry.
Newspaper Rock has one of many largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs within the U.S.
Day 9: Drive to Moab
The drive from Santa Fe to Moab is one other lengthy day of highway tripping at about 6 hours. You’ll be able to assist break up the drive by stopping at varied historical ruins alongside the best way, such because the Pueblo settlements of Bandelier Nationwide Monument, the attractive Puye Cliff Dwellings, and/or Mesa Verde Nationwide Park.
Nearer to Moab, try Newspaper Rock the place you’ll be able to see one of many largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs within the U.S.
When you have some extra time to increase this leg of the journey, take into account including on Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park the place you’ll be able to sled down the sand dunes or the 4 Corners Monument the place you’ll be able to place your toes in Four states on the identical time.
Day 10-12: Discover Moab
With a Mars-like pink rock panorama, two nationwide parks, and tons of adventurous off-roading actions, the city of Moab is a should.
Earlier than heading out for the paths, you’ll positively wish to gas up with a flat white or egg sandwich at Moab Garage Co.
I visited this cute café a number of occasions throughout my keep to attempt their salads, sandwiches, and their particular Nitroccino (primarily, an espresso milkshake)!
You will have a full day to discover every of Arches and Canyonlands NP’s, however don’t overlook to go away some additional time to discover the city and absorb a Hummer or ATV tour!
This city is known for its off-roading trails and you will notice a great deal of ATV’s trolling down the principle road alongside the automobiles.
I took an ATV tour with High Point Hummer & ATV Tours and had the BEST time dashing across the bumpy terrain exterior Canyonlands on the Merrimack and Monitor Buttes. Different tremendous common off-roading trails close by embrace Hell’s Revenge and Fins & Issues.
The place to Eat in Moab
An especially common (out of doors) lunch spot to take a look at is the Quesadilla Mobilla meals truck the place I devoured a tacky spinach and candy potato mixture that I’ll always remember!
The place to Keep in Moab
There are many totally different locations to remain in and round Moab together with Airbnb’s with desert vista backyards, tenting in Lifeless Horse Level State Park, and inns at varied worth factors.
I liked the pool and restaurant on the Hilton’s Hoodoo Moab, but in addition loved a few stress-free nights at an Airbnb simply exterior city – the stargazing is crystal clear!
Day 13-14: Explore Salt Lake City
This city has so much to offer! Depending on what time of year you visit, you can spend your days skiing in nearby Park City or dipping your toes into the cool waters of the Great Salt Lake.
The city is set alongside the mountains so you get the benefit of many hiking trails and nature activities plus a trendy and well-established food scene.
Ensign Peak Trail just north of Capitol Hill is a lovely way to get a lay of the land and see the entire city from above. I loved walking around the Sugar House neighborhood and enjoying al fresco beer flights at the Wasatch Brew Pub.
There is also scooter-sharing all over SLC and it’s a fun way to breeze through different neighborhoods!
Where to Eat in Salt Lake City
I did my fair share of dining in this town and would highly recommend The Rose Establishment for chrysanthemum lattes and candy treats.
Head to Present Fish & Oyster for extremely contemporary and upscale seafood.
And don’t miss out on Crown Burger! This SLC fast-food spot is known for its pastrami topped cheeseburgers…that are much more scrumptious than they sound!
And don’t overlook the fry sauce – Utah has a longstanding obsession with this ketchup and mayo combo; you’ll see it on practically all fried meals menus!
Exterior of Salt Lake Metropolis
A few must-do fast drives simply exterior the town embrace Antelope Island State Park the place bison roam freely, in addition to the Bonneville Salt Flats the place you’ll really feel such as you’ve traveled all the best way to Bolivia!
Entry to those salt flats is free by way of a relaxation cease west on I-80. You’ll be able to even drive on it! The Bonneville Speedway close by holds quite a few land velocity information for 400+ mph on the salt floor.
Simply make sure that to present your automotive a radical scrub afterward to scrape off the corrosive salt, in addition to no matter different pink filth your automotive has collected on this final Southwest itinerary!
And there you might have it, of us! The final word Southwest USA highway journey itinerary. Are there any scorching spots you’d add to this route?