The Amazing American Southwest in Photos

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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


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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53 Comments on “The Amazing American Southwest in Photos

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  1. 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!

      It’s an incredibly pretty part of this country – and so different from what you’ll find in other parts of North America!

    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.

      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!

    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!

      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).

    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?

      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!

    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!

      I hope you make it there, Tina! If you love landscapes, this part of the US has some of the best!

    GREAT photos, Amanda!! I need to make it out to the Southwest for reasons other than work!

      Thanks Laryssa! And yes, you do!

    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.

      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!

    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 🙂

      We are definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to landscapes and national parks here in the US!

    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. 😀

      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!

    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

      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!

    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!

      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!

      Your photographs are absolutely stunning! My husband and I just returned from a wonderful western trip traveling through many of the parks you pictured. We purchased a gloss metal print (12×18) of “The Labyrinth.” Are any of your other photographs in this format? We are interested in making a wall display of some of our favorite places.

        Hey Laurie! Yes, I do have all my photos available to buy – including as metal prints! You can click on the images in this post to head over to SmugMug, and if you click the “buy photo” button, the metal print options can be found under the “wall art” tab. I have a lot more photos from the Southwest, too – if you head over to SmugMug, you can navigate at the top to see all the folders in my USA gallery here:

    Argh, all of these photos are just so stunning! And really shows how expansive the SouthWest is.
    You sure are talented!

      Aww, thanks so much, Brooklyn! I can’t take all the credit, though – some of these landscapes basically photograph themselves!

    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?

      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!

    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.

      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.

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