The Amazing American Southwest in Photos

Bryce Canyon National Park
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Despite all the countries I've visited, the cities I've explored, and the natural wonders I've seen up close, I'm still convinced of one thing: the United States is one of the most diverse and most beautiful countries out there.

As an American, I spent most of my life taking this fact for granted. I dreamed of “escaping” the US, and almost always looked to other countries when I thought about travel. But then I started traveling more in my own country. A road trip here, a weekend away there.

And guess what?

I discovered that some of the best landscapes, the coolest cities, and most interesting people were right here in my own country the whole time.

And, after a few years in a row of making a point of traveling within the US, I have identified my favorite part of the country: The American Southwest.

Mount Carmel Highway in Zion National Park

Sedona, Arizona

The American Southwest is (like many regions in this country) loosely defined. Usually it includes Arizona, and then parts of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and sometimes Nevada and the tiniest sliver of California. When I think of this region, I think desert and red sandstone and ties to America's native people. I think of tiny towns and weak cell phone signals. And I think of national parks and sweeping landscapes.

After two separate trips to this part of the US, I'm finally ready to show you all my favorite spots!

The Amazing American Southwest in Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my favorite part of the United States:

Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park in Utah – perhaps my favorite national park now!

Delicate Arch at sunset

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park (Utah)

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park

Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

Grand Canyon at Desert View

Desert View at the Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah

Upper Antelope Canyon

Light beam in Upper Antelope Canyon (Arizona)

Taos Pueblo in New Mexico

Taos Pueblo in New Mexico

Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon National Park

Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (Arizona)

Monument Valley

Monument Valley in Utah

Angels Landing trail in Zion

Hiking the Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park (Utah)

Red Rocks in Sedona

Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona

Sunset at White Sands National Monument

Sunset at White Sands National Monument (New Mexico)

Upper Antelope Canyon

Inside Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona

Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon North Rim (Arizona)

Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Driving in New Mexico

Driving in northern New Mexico

Angel's Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing in Zion National Park (Utah)

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Totem Pole in Monument Valley

Totem Pole in Monument Valley (Utah)

Foggy Grand Canyon

Fog descends into the Grand Canyon in Arizona

North Window arch at Arches National Park

North Window Arch at Arches National Park (Utah)

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona

Kiva Koffeehouse in Utah

Kiva Koffeehouse in the middle of nowhere in Utah

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park (Utah)

Angel's Landing in Zion National Park

The view from Angels Landing in Zion National Park (Utah)

Cliffdwellers, Arizona

Cliffdwellers in Arizona

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

Mount Carmel Highway in Zion National Park

Mount Carmel Highway in Zion National Park (Utah)

And, of course, even after two road trips through this part of the country, there are still a ton of spots in the Southwest that I still haven't seen! Still on my list is the Four Corners, Mesa Verde, The Wave in Coyote Buttes North, Canyon de Chelly, Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas, and Havasu Falls, among others.

The landscapes here are just so stunning and so different that you could spends months in the American Southwest and still probably not see it all.

Interested in reading more about some of the spots featured in these photos? Check out these posts:

Which of these places are you adding to your US bucket list now? Are there any you didn't know about before?

 

Inspiring photos from the American Southwest

 

49 Comments

  • Jeneca Frederiksen says:

    I grew up in Utah, taking summer trips to the red rocks down south. Your photos made me homesick for my favorite places. Thanks for the nostalgia! Definitely try to hit up your list, especially Havasu Falls. I hiked that one this year and have never seen anything quite like it. Also, I’m loving your blog! Can’t wait for more posts.

    • Amanda says:

      Glad I could stir up some good memories, Jeneca! I’ve only really become accepting of hiking in the past year or so (it’s still not my favorite thing to do), so I have some work to do before I could attempt the trek to Havasu Falls! But I definitely hope to someday.

  • Beautiful photos! I’m dying to do some road trips in the West & Southwest (I live in Chicago) – especially to some of the national parks! Any recommendations on where to start?

    • Amanda says:

      Well, my answer would be in the Southwest, of course! 😉 Check out my post on Utah’s national parks – they are some of my favorites! I’ll eventually write up an itinerary similar to the Southwest road trip my boyfriend and I did this year, which had us visiting a bunch of parks!

  • Argh, all of these photos are just so stunning! And really shows how expansive the SouthWest is.
    You sure are talented!
    Brooklyn @JustBeingBrooklyn recently posted..A Walk Around Vancouver’s Botanical Gardens

  • Shannon says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! We just put our house on the market after living in Arizona (Tucson,) for 5 years, (husband’s job transfer,) and you are so right, we barely scratched the surface of touring around the southwest. There are probably 1000 things in Tucson alone that we didn’t get the chance to see.
    Thank you for your beautiful pictures!

    • Amanda says:

      And it’s also so true that you often tend to travel/explore less in the place you call “home.” I’m guilty of it in Ohio, too, but am trying to spend more time in Cleveland while I’m there!

  • Ijana says:

    You literally have me writing up a road trip plan right now. I have a couple friends on the east coast who would love to do a southwest road trip so such a trip may definitely be coming! I think you are literally the reason I’m so excited about this region 😀 I live in Vegas so I find myself guilty of being sick of the southwest but these places are all so stunning

    • Amanda says:

      Awesome to hear! It’s one of my favorite parts of the US to roadtrip through because the landscapes are so amazing and the traffic usually isn’t too terrible!

  • stunning photos!
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted..What has travel taught me?(#TravelLinkup)

  • Our Wanders says:

    We’ve only done one wonderful road trip through the Southwest so far, but there’s so much to see there that we definitely want to go back again somewhen! Your pictures also made us realize how many places we didn’t see. 😀
    Our Wanders recently posted..Our Visit To Château de Versailles, Paris

    • Amanda says:

      SO many places to see. I missed out on quite a few on my first trip through, and there are still a handful that I haven’t managed to squeeze in yet!

  • Ella says:

    I can definitely see why the Southwest is your favourite region. Seeing all of this natural beauty and visiting the national parks is one of the main reasons why I want to visit the US. It’s awesome that you have so much beauty in your own back yard 🙂
    Ella recently posted..Stories For A Smile: August 2016

  • Beautiful photos, Amanda! We’re leaving on Thursday for a tour of the Mighty 5 and your pictures just made me more excited! I did the Grand Canyon about 15 years ago so I’m well overdue for a trip to the American Southwest.
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted..Best of Belfast

    • Amanda says:

      Awesome! Southern Utah is just out of this world! I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked in Canyonlands and Capitol Reef – I’ll clearly just have to go back!

  • Laryssa says:

    GREAT photos, Amanda!! I need to make it out to the Southwest for reasons other than work!
    Laryssa recently posted..Thailand and Vietnam: The Ultimate 1 Month Itinerary

  • Tina says:

    These photos are breathtaking! I have never visited this part of USA but it is high on my bucket list. Hope to go there next year! Great article, keep up the good work!

  • Leah says:

    Wow, what amazing photography. I’ve always wanted to go to Zion (been to Vegas for work and such but never had time to make the drive up)…well- you convinced me it’s worth the travel time. Here’s my question- our kids are young- ages 6, 4, and 2- could we do any hiking there with them or is it pretty anxiety-inducing edge-of-the-cliff stuff?
    Leah recently posted..Why this Dave Ramsey follower still uses a credit card

    • Amanda says:

      Zion is ABSOLUTELY worth the drive! The scenery is just incredible. And while I definitely would not recommend Angels Landing for young kids, there are definitely easier hikes! There’s a nice easy hike to a waterfall (the Emerald Pools Trail), and you can also walk a few flat trails along the river that are various lengths. And the shuttle would make getting around with everyone easy, too!

  • Dominique says:

    Gorgeous photography! What lens did you use to capture the wide-angled landscape shots? None of these sights were on my radar to be honest, but after seeing all the pictures and posts you (and other bloggers) have written about it I feel it should definitely be on my must-visit list!

    • Amanda says:

      Yes, put it on that bucket list right now! And *most* of these shots were taken with my 12-40mm Pro lens (on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera).

  • Danny says:

    Your photos are absolutely breathtaking!

    I really need to discover more of the US. Similar to you, I’ve always been trying to escape (I suppose that’s why I’ve lived abroad for the past four years). But surprisingly enough, the more time I spend abroad, the more interested I become in seeing more of the US and its unique landscapes.

    • Amanda says:

      It’s so easy to write off your own country as too “familiar” to be interesting as a travel destination. But that’s especially unfair in the US, since it’s such a diverse country in every sense of the word!

  • Laura says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’ve never been interested in visiting the American Southwest before, but after seeing your pictures, I might have changed my mind. My brother went to New Mexico last summer for a week long hiking trip, but he didn’t take many photos. I didn’t realize how beautiful this area of the world was until now!

  • these photos are stunning. europe is where i most love to travel, but recently i feel like it isn’t the safest destination. we were in austria in june and i just felt uneased in vienna (less so in the countryside) so next year we are planning a national park road trip. antelope canyon is number 1 on my list, and i’d love to see horseshoe bend. what’s the skill set for these hikes, to get these views? that’s my concern. glad you went to sedona, i am obsessed after only one visit and always talk about going back!
    thanks,
    b

    • Amanda says:

      A national parks road trip will be AWESOME! And the skill level for some of the hikes varies. Angels Landing (which you can read about on my site) is incredibly tough. But other spots (like Horseshoe Bend, for example), are really easy to get to!

  • Kim says:

    YES! So glad I found your blog! I am a recent solo traveller (have a small camper). My first thoughts were travelling foreign countries, then I realized I haven’t travelled the US hardly at all. Last year I did a Civil War tour through VA and PA, this year I’m going to finally make it to Maine and eat lobster, driving through New England to see foliage on the way. But my next destination will definitely be west, and after seeing your gorgeous photography I’m so inspired! Will definitly be keeping up with you:-)

  • Dave Briggs says:

    The Southwest is really an interesting place. I agree that there’s more to the country than meets the eye. Also, the rock formations and landscapes you’ve shown in your photos are very stunning.

  • Stunning photos! I would love to do a road trip through the US one day. 🙂

  • Kaili says:

    The southwest is the one little corner of the US that I still haven’t explored! I am hoping to get out there sometime soon. These photos are certainly fueling my wanderlust.

    Kaili

  • Rick Stevens says:

    Stunning photos Amanda well done!

  • Zion is my favorite, too! I have been twice, both times in September, so I’m feeling nostalgic for the SouthWest right now…especially as my Facebook memories keep popping up! I can’t wait to explore more of this area next year!

  • Gorgeous! I really need to explore more of this part of the country.

  • These photos are beautiful! The American Southwest does have some stunning locations. Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon are a couple of my favorites.

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