I am a fan of U.S. road trips as a cost-effective and relaxing way to spend my summer travel time.
Here are some of my top picks of “natural beauties” in the southwest for you to check out when you’re on the road this summer.
Keep an eye out for part 2 of this post on Monday for more ideas.
Note: Many lodgings in these areas fill up quickly for the summer months, so I recommend planning your natural getaway in advance. Also, all of these spots are great destinations for family vacations.
Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona (Web): This is a no-brainer. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, make it a priority this summer. Grand Canyon National Park is visited by more than five million people each year (granted, most of them in the summer months). That means you should expect lots of company, especially on the touristy South Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is much less touristy, which is makes for a more relaxing visit.
The North Rim is known for its impressive exposed geologic formations from the earth’s four eras of geologic history. Keep in mind that lodging can be hard to come by, especially on during the summer months. The Grand Canyon Lodge bills itself as the only lodging on the North Rim, however there are some smaller options nearby, so book early if you’re interested in staying here.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico (Web): The Carsbad Caverns– comprised of over 117 underground caves that were formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone— are simply magical. I recommend heading straight to the visitor’s center, which provides information on the geological formations in the area as well as schedules for the wide variety of cave tours available. Be sure to head to the “bat cave” at dusk where you can watch hundreds of Mexican free-tail bats fly out of the cave and zoom over your head!