The Southwest is home to some of the best hiking destinations in the world. With vast and open spans of wilderness areas that far extend beyond most of our imaginations, you can set out on some long and beautiful journeys overland on foot. So here are a few spots that you need to leave your footprints.
Arches National Park – National Park Service – Utah
Located just outside of the little town of Moab, Utah is Arches National Park. We are talking the Wylie Coyote cartoon backdrop type locations that most of us have only seen on Saturday morning cartoons or on the movies. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails that lead you to some of the most beautiful natural sculptures made by the sands and winds of time. Plenty of locations for backcountry expeditions that will take you far off the beaten path. A park named for the sheer number of natural bridges and arches caused by millions of years of erosion, most of these wonders cannot be seen from the inside of your car, so the hiking trails are a must to really get a full experience of this wonderful and scenic location.
The Painted Desert/Petrified Forest – National Park Service – Arizona
If you are visiting Arches for the hikes, hit the road and head across the desert into Arizona and into the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Both are located within each other so you have a wonderful opportunity to see prehistoric trees that have turned into rock over millions of years and vast painted desert landscapes. Imagine what it was like to walk among the dinosaurs, as you see what was one a forest before you. Plenty of hiking trails, interpretative centers, and self-guided tours. Wander for days on end in the desert, but it is a desert so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. You cannot take a bad picture in the Painted desert and you can truly see where the deer and antelope play.
Gila Cliff Dwellings – National Park Service – New Mexico
See the actual remains of people that built a small civilization in the cliffs of New Mexico, the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Built by the Mogollon people in 1200 and subsequently abandoned sometime later, they left behind a maze of homes and a mirror into the past. There are plenty of hiking trails that range from easy day hikes and extended backcountry trips that take you far from the modern world and you will be walking in the footsteps of ancient people. The Natural beauty of the area will also draw you in and make you want to see more, mountains, valleys, hills, canyons, and streams that cover the area will give you an idea of why the Mogollon people decided to give this area a try.
Given the endless possible locations, one could hike across the Southwest, simply plan a trip to these locations. Have a road trip of a lifetime that includes treading some ground on some of the most scenic and tranquil locations in the American Southwest.