Are you ready to discover an America you never knew existed? Let’s face it, there are so many stunning destinations to discover in the western half of the country, that trying to narrow down what to see during a road trip to the Western USA can be daunting. Luckily, for those with a Sixt sense of adventure, we’ve rounded up five places to visit when your travels take you to Arizona, Nevada, California or Utah. No matter which ones you choose to see while driving through the wild west, you won’t be disappointed.
1. Havasu Falls, Arizona
A view from atop Havasu Falls. Photo courtesy of Instagram user @_amarisss
We’ve previously discussed exploring the Grand Canyon by car, but here’s a hidden gem you’re sure to enjoy. The Havasu Falls are located just outside the borders of the Grand Canyon National Park in northwestern Arizona. This destination is often featured in videos online of people plunging into the blue-green water below the waterfalls. Access to the falls is controlled and you will need an entry ticket. The restrictions are partly for conservation and, also, because the Havasu Falls are located on land that belongs to the Havasupai Tribe. Planning several months or a year ahead is crucial, especially if you want to stay at the campground there due to limited spots. You’ll also need to do a moderate hike of about 10 miles (16 kilometers) each way from a parking lot at the trailhead. But at the end of that hike is an experience like no other!
2. Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada
The Seven Magic Mountains art installation outside Las Vegas
What was meant to be a temporary public art installation in the desert between Las Vegas and the California border is trying to become more permanent. The series of stacked, brightly covered rocks from Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone sits in the Mojave Desert about 10 miles south of Las Vegas, just off Interstate 15. They were supposed to be there for only two years, but due to the popularity of the installation, an effort is being made to keep it there long-term. You can take an Instagram-ready photo at the Seven Magic Mountains until at least the end of 2018.
3. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The striking colors of the landscape give the park its name
The name Valley of Fire State Park sounds intimidating, but never fear – it refers to the colorful sandstone structures. Here, you’ll see bright red sandstone and distinctive gray and white striped limestone. The park also holds ancient petrified trees and petroglyphs. With a lot of hiking options and two campgrounds, this is a good place for a stopover on a drive to Las Vegas, Nevada. The park is only about an hour outside of the city. If you go when the light is just right, you’ll be in awe of the stone formations. Be sure to look out for the “elephant” among the red rocks!
4. Yosemite National Park, California
A view of some of the granite formations at Yosemite National Park
When asked to name national parks in the US, people will almost always mention Yosemite. One of the oldest acts of land preservation in the country, Yosemite became part of the national park system in 1864. Now the area in Northern California that includes the Sierra Nevada mountains is a magnet for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. Whatever activity or type of nature you want to experience is likely to be found within the park’s boundaries. The famous waterfall, Bridalveil Fall, the ancient sequoia trees, the scenic point known as Tunnel View, and rock-climbing meccas El Capitan and Half Dome can all be found here. The hard part will be deciding what to see and do.
5. Monument Valley, Utah and Arizona
Buttes rise from the desert floor in Monument Valley
This one is on the list because of its natural beauty. The area straddles the border between Utah and Arizona and is located just off Highway 163. Monument Valley is known for its red sandstone buttes and is located near several national monuments, recreation areas, and parks. It is also located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation. The desert landscape with the buttes rising from the earth is a photographer’s paradise, especially during sunrise and sunset. You must buy an entry ticket to Monument Valley. There are also tours available by Jeep from Navajo guides in order to learn all about the land’s natural wonders.
So there you have it! These are just a taste of places you can drive to when visiting the western USA. Do you still need more inspiration to visit these five places in the United States? Our Facebook video gives you a quick look at what’s in store. Sixt offers great deals on long term rentals and so you can enjoy the trip in style in a Ford Mustang convertible or Mercedes G-Class.
Andrea enjoys exploring different countries and eating all of their foods, especially if they’re spicy.