Are you craving a desert vacation filled with fantastic rock formations and countless hikes and tours? Lace up your comfortable shoes and come with us on your Midwest getaway to Arizona and Utah. Here are just 9 of our favorite places.
The Grand Canyon
At the top of anyone’s list is the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re on a guided tour or just exploring on your own, the rock formations and valleys are sure to impress.
South Rim Trails
The southern rim of the canyon offers many hiking trails and scenic points to watch the sunset. Our favorites include Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Hopi Point – each offers a different view for a unique experience. If hiking is not your thing, consider a mule ride.
North Rim Adventures
If you’re looking for rafting or camping, the northern rim offers camps like Kaibab Lake and photo opportunities like Bright Angel Point. This is the least touristy area of the canyon and the highest elevation. You can drive a good portion of this area on paved roads.
Have you ever wondered what waves made of rock would look like? Look no further than Antelope Canyon. These monuments are sure to be every photographer’s dream. (These locations are closed for the remainder of 2020 so add them to your list for 2021.)
Upper Antelope Canyon
Morning photography tours are a must in the upper canyon. With reports of the light changing completely every 20 or so minutes, it doesn’t take long for you to have a variety of unique shots.
Lower Antelope Canyon
The tours in the lower canyon are slightly less expensive and a great experience any time of the day. While you might have to make a trade in the absence of light beams, the light sticks around slightly longer, and the deeper canyons make for a completely different set of photos.
Between the Grand and Antelope canyons lies Horseshoe bend. Known for the river that cuts through the valley to form the luckiest charm of all and offers a short hike from the interstate to the lookout.
Experienced hikers thrive in the Havasupai reservation and can be rewarded with gorgeous views for their proper planning. Havasu, Mooney, and New Navajo Falls are all located on the reservation. Be sure to plan and check the National Park Service (NPS) website for alerts and closures before you hike. Reservations are required for any hiking or camping.
Lake Powell allows tourists to get in the water via paddleboard tours and self-guided rentals. Located in Page, AZ, you can access cliffs, beaches, and more via the lake. Rent a houseboat and float along the 2000 miles of shoreline.
Jumping into Utah, Monument Valley is the perfect connection point into the Beehive State from Arizona. Take a jeep excursion with a Navajo guide for a unique and all encompassing experience.
Sure, to amaze are the jutting rock structures known as The Mittens due to their shape. The thumb-like deviations resemble the perfect pair of cozy winter mittens. This area is great for a tour because it encompasses an area of 40 by 50 miles.
Arches National Park
As the name suggests, Arches National Park is full of natural land bridges and towering rock arches that look like they could have been carved by man. It’s located in Utah and is the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. This area is amazing for families offering easy hikes in many locations.
Another of Utah’s National Parks nicknamed “The Mighty 5,” Bryce Canyon is home to some more leisurely hikes and trails than it’s Arizonian counterpart in Havasupai. Camp here and spend the night gazing at the stars. 7500 stars shine making the light so bright, you can see your shadow at night.
Navajo Loop Trail
At a mere 1.3 miles, the Navajo Loop Trail is a seasonal trail beginning and ending at the Sunset Point amphitheater and combinable with other trails for hikers wanting to go a little farther. The trail descends 800 feet and packs a lot of amazing scenery into a very small package.
Queens Garden Trail
In addition to the Navajo Loop Trail, the Queens Garden Trail is a short, 0.9-mile route that drops about 320 feet below the canyon rim. It’s just about a half hour hike so great combined with one or more of the other trails.
Zion National Park
No list would be complete without mentioning Zion National Park which includes trails like Angel’s Landing and both the Upper and Lower Emerald Pools which cover a distance of 2 miles round trip. This area has it all with options for horseback riding, canyoneering, hiking, birding, and wildlife.
No matter the location you choose, check the national park’s websites for opening and closure information as well as reservation requirements.