The scenery of the American Southwest is often otherworldly. Listed below are my favorite landscapes from a spring road trip through Arizona, Utah and Nevada. I’ve also included some advice on how to avoid the crowds. Editor’s tip: Purchase a U.S. Parks Pass; it easily pays for itself if you go to a few of these places.
It may be obvious and well on the tourist track, but the Grand Canyon is so spectacular that everyone should see it. It isn’t surprising that it is America’s second-most-visited national park, but at over 1 million acres, it’s big enough for anyone to escape the masses. Of course, crowds peak during the summer high season and in the hub of Grand Canyon Village. Taking a hike away from the main viewpoints will quickly thin out the tourists. The Shoshone Point trail is a good intermediate option along the rim, and guided hikes are available for more-adventurous hikers who want to descend a mile to the bottom of the canyon. Those looking for an off-the-beaten-path view should drive a few hours to the North Rim of the canyon, which is less developed.
We arrived at the east entrance of the park to see the Desert View Watchtower, a historic stone structure designed by the trailblazing architect Mary Colter in 1932. The 70-foot-tall watchtower stands right along the edge of the South Rim. Its observation deck offers a dizzying view across the abyss. The massive scale defies description and plays a trick on your eyes as you look 8 miles across to the opposite edge of the canyon and a mile down to the bottom. We also stopped at nearby Lipan Point, which was relatively uncrowded. But it attracted a subset of tourists looking to hang precariously over the edge of the canyon with their selfie sticks in hand.