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Top 10 Must-See Destinations on a Western Road Trip

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most stunning, unique and picturesque natural destinations in Western America that you need to check out on your next road trip. Thanks to Getty Images for the pictures and videos!

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Top 10 Must-See Destinations On A Western America Road Trip
Pack your bags… we’re chasing the sunset. Welcome to MojoTravels, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Must-See Destinations On A Western America Road Trip.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most stunning, unique and picturesque natural destinations in Western America that you need to check out on your next road trip.

#10: Monument Valley
Utah and Arizona
Have you ever been in the presence of giants? It can be a rather sobering experience, and one that makes you feel very small. Though you’ve surely seen photos of the towering sandstone buttes that populate the Colorado Valley along the Utah-Arizona border, it’s nigh impossible to fully grasp the magnitude of these natural formations until you see them up close and in-person. The largest amongst them reaches an impressive 1000 feet in height. Of course, it’s not just these monoliths that makes Monument Valley a must-visit destination - the vivid intensity of the stratified red sandstone against the broad blue sky is breathtaking. When the sun is at the horizon, it’s otherworldly.

#9: Valley of Fire State Park
Speaking of bright red sandstone that will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief, this Nevada State Park is another must-visit destination. Whereas Monument Valley is all about the large, free-standing buttes, Valley of Fire stands out as a result of the more heavily textured and oddly ornate sandstone formations that make up much of its landscape. When the sun hits them just right, these rocky outcroppings look as if they’ve been set ablaze.The park covers 40,000 acres of land, which, in addition to the sandstone, is also home to petrified trees and millenia-old petroglyphs. And don’t even get us started on the nighttime view of the stars.

#8: Sequoia National Park
Entering a very different sort of environment, we head to California, where one of the world’s most beautiful and impressive forests awaits. And talk about giants. . . you’ve likely seen some fairly large trees in your life, but until you’ve visited Sequoia National Park, you really have no idea just how large they can get. Here, in the home of the world’s largest known tree, General Sherman, the massive sequoias tower above you like skyscrapers, boasting trunks that measure dozens of feet in diameter. But there’s more to this park than the plant life, it’s also home to the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney. Peaceful and inspiring, Sequoia National Park is not to be missed.

#7: Horseshoe Bend
The tourism industry in America owes lot to the mighty Colorado river. Snaking its way through the Southwestern United States, it’s given birth to some of the most staggering natural attractions this land has to offer. One of these notable landmarks is Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, where the river makes a large banking turn to create a shape that looks remarkably like a horseshoe. Over millions upon millions of years, it has eroded away at the surrounding land to make a 1,000-foot drop. And you can sit down right on the edge and marvel at the power of nature, or visit the bottom by boat! Pro tip: Don’t miss the sunset.

#6: Jackson Hole
Wyoming is an underrated travel destination, but Jackson Hole is sure to ring a bell. Yes, it’s a bit of a mecca for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, and the slopes are indeed incredible, but this valley has something to offer for anyone who loves the great outdoors. A northern pastoral fantasy land, Jackson Hole is like one big rugged postcard nestled between the Gros Ventre and Teton Mountain ranges. Here the old west seemingly never died - it just got more comfortable without sacrificing any of its natural beauty. Whether you’re interesting in fishing, hiking, rafting, horseback riding or simply experiencing nature, Jackson Hole is the place to be.

#5: Lake Tahoe
California and Nevada
Second only to the Great Lakes of the Northern United States, Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the United States. But in terms of beauty, it’s arguably second to none. This gem, nestled high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, is a major destination in both winter and summer. As with Jackson Hole, skiing is the main attraction in the colder months; whereas in summer, really, the sky’s the limit. Water sports, hiking, biking - whatever you’re in the mood for, they can likely accommodate. In all honesty though… you could just as easily spend your entire visit sitting and marvelling at that stunning blue water and surrounding trees.

#4: Upper Antelope Canyon
Before you decide to fit Horseshoe Bend into your roadtrip, you’re also going to want plan a visit to this relatively small, but marvelous destination. Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as “the Crack”, is just a 17 minute drive from the aforementioned section of the Colorado River. A “slot canyon”, this awe-inspiring passageway has been formed by quick running water resulting from flash floods. Because of this potential danger, you can only visit on a guided tour, but it is well worth the money and company. Over the years, the ever-changing canyon has gained all manner of twists and turns which catch the light in ways that can only be described as magical.

#3: Zion National Park
Anyone who skips over this National Park on their road trip is missing out in a big way, because really… there’s nothing else like it. The western United States might not be short on red sandstone destinations, but Zion National Park and its namesake Canyon stand out from the bunch in a big way. It’s a bit of an ecological cross-section, hosting a delightful variety of both plant and animal life. The greenery pops against the red sandstone, which, taken together with that limitless Western sky, creates indescribably vibrant vistas. Scenic drives and hiking trails abound.

#2: Carlsbad Caverns
New Mexico
We’ve taken you into the great outdoors and to the bottom of canyons, but now… we’re going fully underground. Though cave spelunking might not be for everyone, the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico have been made so accessible and tourist friendly, that really… there’s no excuse not to go. The world you uncover when you enter these caves is truly surreal - like something out of a sci-fi film. The rock formations, countless years in the making, might seem creepy at first, but once you overcome your fears, you’ll begin to see the magic of it all. And with over 116 caverns to explore, Carlsbad isn’t short on sights.

#1: Grand Canyon
This iconic landmark might not be the most original road trip destination, but there are few sights in the world more staggering or impressive than the Grand Canyon. Standing on the precipice of this awe-inspiring natural wonder, you’ll likely struggle to grasp the scope of what’s in front of you. At its widest, the canyon spans 18 miles across and at certain points... it’s over a mile deep. The view alone is worth the trip, but if you’re in good shape and can plan ahead, you really need to visit Havasu Falls xref. It’s a 10 mile hike each direction, but the beauty of this desert oasis is unparalleled - and a once in a lifetime experience.


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