Over the holidays, Craig and Linda take a break and hand over the reigns to some guest podcasters.

America’s South West contains many deserts filled with areas of immense beauty and natural wonders. Starting in Las Vegas, today’s host Chris Christensen takes us on a South West American road trip to four beautiful spots.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 136 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

1. Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a spectacular site, but we’re going to do it a little differently. Most visitors approach from the South, but we’re going to visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The north rim has less tourists than the south, so it’s going to be quieter and more relaxed. You can hike down the canyon to camp on the valley floor or check out the views and continue on.

grand canyon north rim america road trip south west
Grand Canyon, North Rim

The north rim is at a higher elevation than the south, so don’t visit in winter unless you like driving through snow. Chris recommends this whole itinerary is best done in September, or sometime in autumn, to avoid the extremes of desert temperatures and, for later stops, spring thaws causing fast-flowing rivers.

2. Page, Arizona and Antelope Canyon

Next stop is in Page, Arizona where one can camp at Lake Powell. Lake Powell is a popular haunt for houseboats, so you may be able to stay onboard and get out on the water. Page was built for dam builders, and the tour of the dam is recommended. Wake early in the morning and begin to explore Antelope Canyon, a stunning slot canyon.

Antelope Canyon is characterised by its sleek red sandstone and narrow slot canyons. Start at the Lower Antelope Canyon, which is maintained by the Navajo nation, and climb down into the canyon. Walk through as far as you are able and, as Chris says, if you can’t take a good picture here, it’s time to sell your camera and try something else.

antelope canyon america road trip south west
Antelope Canyon slot canyon

Time your journey to make it to the Upper Antelope Canyon by noon to enjoy the overhead light streaming down from above and the shafts of sunlight cutting through the canyon’s shade. Access to Upper Antelope Canyon is wheelchair friendly, while the Lower Canyon is not.

3. Bryce National Park

Continuing on to Bryce National Park to watch the sun rise over a sea of hoodoos – naturally occurring spires of rock. Bryce is high and cold, so make sure you have a warm sleeping bag if you’re camping overnight. After breakfast, hike the Navajo trail through the park.

bryce national park america road trip south west
Bryce National Park

4. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is contains even more canyons to hike through. If you’re brave hike the rim at Angel’s Landing which has big drop offs on either side of the trail; it’s not recommended if you have a fear of heights.

virgin river zion national park america road trip south west
Virgin River, Zion National Park

If it hasn’t been raining, you can do a half-day hike up Virgin river, which flows through the valley of the canyon. Rent hiking gear there and, if you’re planning a full day or multi-day walk, you need a permit from the Parks department. Chris recommends you depart early to avoid crowds and take lunch to eat once you reach your turning point.

Chris talks about these destinations in more depth in episodes 15-18 of the Amateur Traveler.

If you have more time

This Southwest America road trip itinerary can take around five days depending on how fast you move. For those with more time, detour to see:

  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Monument Valley
  • Canyon de Chelly National Monument
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Moab, Utah

Chris podcasts at the Amateur Traveler and is taking the plunge into full-time podcasting this January; he might need to rename the show! We wish him all the best for the new year, and to you:

Happy new year! 2010? Bring it on!

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

Your thoughts on "American South West road trip podcast"

  • I can't believe you misspelled Page, AZ. Paige? How hard could it be to look that up? How much could the amateur guy know about the place if he can't even spell it?

    on January 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm Reply
    • That's my fault; I did all the show notes and, because of the holidays, it didn't go to our normal fact-checker. We usually have three people reading articles before they go live, all looking for different issues but we were a person down thanks to the holidays. Fixed now, in any case. Thanks to you and @LAUniqueTravel for pointing it out. (And there are a surprising number of results for "paige slot canyon arizona" ... which is why Google doesn't equal real fact checking. Note to self.)

      on January 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm Reply
  • A good rundown of some of the most beautiful places in the Southwest! You're quite right about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - it is more serene and more beautiful and is an amazing place to watch the sun set. Also, another option for seeing Lake Powell, if you're adventurous, is to raft the San Juan River from Bluff, Utah to Lake Powell. That is an amazing way to see some truly wild canyon country. And I would like to add the Painted Desert in northern Arizona, and Monument Valley in Utah to your list - both absolutely stunning, out of this world landscapes that are completely unique to the Southwest.

    on January 4, 2010 at 10:35 am Reply
  • Oh lordy, can't wait to get back to the States and take a good old California road trip from Sacramento down to Palm Springs/indio. This is a great route guys, Antelope Canyon looks incredible, and most definitely Bryce, Zion, Moab, and Monument Valley are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I've ever been.

    on January 7, 2010 at 9:18 am Reply
  • I am from Page, and there are a ton more things to do there than this guy mentions. I have lived here for twenty years and I still haven't done everything there is to do. Nothing in town, but just outside town is beautiful. This guy kinda makes it boring, and he keeps saying Navajo wrong. I am Navajo. But, Craig and Linda, if you ever do decide to come out, I would love to act as your tour guide and show you around. Even give you a tour of the Navajo Nation. As real as it gets. :)

    on January 8, 2010 at 7:36 am Reply
    • @From Page: Thanks for that. Not being able to talk enough about places is one of the biggest problems of the audio format! I'm always sad at the things we miss, but that happens. Thanks so much for the offer; we have no US plans in the next year, but we'll definitely look you up when we come through.

      on January 8, 2010 at 2:39 pm Reply
    • @From Page - I saw this response pretty late .. I am planning to have a trip starting from Arches National Park to Flagstaff and see places in between. If you can help me; that will be fantastic. -Arindam

      on November 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm Reply

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