Exploring the Southwest U.S.

display Lake Tahoe

Last Updated on September 7, 2021

Blue rivers, waterfalls, natural springs, and pine forests carve through the Southwest United States. I’ve lived in Arizona for eight years, taught about Arizona history, and often camp in the region, yet I have still not seen everything the state has to offer, let alone the whole Southwest. However, I am excited to share with you some places I’ve been blessed to visit, as well as my bucket list spots in this region!

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park, M. Swigart

I obviously had to start with this natural wonder! Photos do not do this location justice for the impressive sites that visitors receive from walking along the rim. Many trails, camp sites, and a multitude a wildlife live among the amazing views. I’ve visited this spectacular view in north Arizona many times, and each one is just as stunning as the last.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls, M. Swigart

I cannot talk about Havasu Falls enough. This location has quickly become a popular destination around the world. Located in the Grand Canyon, you will not stumble upon this attraction at the Grand Canyon National Park. Instead the 8-mile trail from the rim of the canyon to Havasu Falls is all on land belonging to the Havasu Tribe. There are options to take a helicopter to the falls for $80 each way, or ride mules to the bottom. However, I am a firm believer in completing the hike to the bottom yourself, if you are physically capable. There is a higher respect and earned satisfaction of ascending into the canyon on foot. Walking up to the majestic and mysterious sites at the bottom of one of the most incredible spots in the world is worth the hard work. Reserving a permit to visit and camp in the Havasu Falls area is a difficult task due to high demand. In order to make your reservation check out havasupaireservations.com. Create an account and be ready to make reservations February 1st for the following year.

Zion National Park

Zion national park

Zion National Park, M.Swigart

Held with as much respect as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park is a national park overflowing with trails and unbelievable views. Visit the waterfalls in this park or hike the famous Angel’s landing trail for a day full of adventure.

Horseshoe Bend

horseshoe bend

Horseshoe Bend, M. Swigart

Horseshoe Bend was a breathtaking experience, and I am not just talking about the quarter mile hike in the heat to get to the incredible view. The natural process of erosion which carved through the canyon in a horseshoe shape was fascinating, especially to my geology teacher husband. We were fortunate enough to find a spot to see a little glimpse of the sunset over the canyon, however there where quite a few people accompanying us for the same view.

Lake Tahoe

display Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe by M. Swigart

Visiting this location makes it hard to believe it is in the southwest. Lake Tahoe is a bright blue oasis surrounded by pine trees and larger than life views. Due to the route of my road trip at the time, I was able to find free dispersed public land on the Nevada side of the lake. Dispersed camping was a great way to avoid any camping fees, as well as people. If you want to visit in the summer, be prepared to face the crowds as people flock to the Lake for the cooler temperatures and beautiful sites Lake Tahoe has to offer.


Sedona AZ

Sedona by M. Swigart

Loaded with trails, interesting landscapes and immaculate views, Sedona is one of my favorite day trip destinations from Phoenix. The red rock formations always amaze me, the sunsets are stunning, and the cute little town offers great places to shop or eat.

Lake Powel

Lake Powel

Lake Powel, M. Swigart

Located near Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powel is my favorite lake in the desert. The view of the vibrant water against the rusty rock shades is the perfect combination to gaze upon. Then, of course, getting in the water for a swim is even more enjoyable.


There are far more locations in the Southwest that are still on my bucket list. What are your favorite places in the Southwest US to visit? Do you have a bucket list of places in this region you wish to see?

About the author

Mariah Swigart

Mariah Swigart is often found camping, climbing, hiking, and kayaking in her home state of Arizona. She loves exploring new locations for her outdoor hobbies, and believes each trip is an opportunity to try a new piece of outdoor gear. Check out SwigartOutdoors.com to read about her most recent adventures.

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