The 10 Best Vacations in the American West

Whether you’re planning a family vacation, taking a road trip with your friends, or travelling solo, there are plenty of options open to you, should you decide to look out west. With its palatial beauty, it’s virtually unmatched in its grandeur, so wherever you go, prepare to be in awe. The American west is home to some of the greatest must-see destinations, monuments, and national parks in the country. The big American west landscapes fascinate even those who reside in them, so it’s of no surprise that visitors flock in their droves to see the wonderful sights. If you do decide to “go west, young man” (or woman), be sure to at least consider these carefully-chosen destinations.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon-Parashant NM” (CC BY 2.0) by mypubliclands

The American West’s most iconic landmark and the greatest treasure in Arizona. Everybody knows about the Grand Canyon, but how many of those who haven’t visited have painted a picture in their mind of the precarious railings and the red-brown cliffs? The Grand Canyon is far more than that, however, and there is good reason why people from the world over make the journey here each and every year. The Canyon isn’t just about the gift shop and tourist railings, either.

You can cycle, ride a mule, or hike along some of the world’s most stunning trails. The Grand Canyon is a paradise for hikers and backpackers. For breathtaking and exciting views, you can even enjoy the view from the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, offering a gateway to walk directly over the canyon. The park also offers numerous restaurants, ranging from fast food to formal dining. It’s worth, too, taking the free newspaper available from the visitor centers scattered throughout the park, as well as at the stations at the entrance.

Carlsbad Cavern

Stepping into the open, vast chambers of Carlsbad Caverns can make you feel like you’re entering an entirely different world. The impressively imposing stalagmite and stalactite formations stand over its seemingly dwarf-like visitors, creating a feeling of overwhelming wonder and awe. The area features over 199 caves, as well as expeditions and tours for all levels of spelunker. The enormous network of caves houses over 17 species of bats (almost 800,000 just in Carlsbad Caverns). The park organizes viewings of the mass bat exoduses and returns- a sight that will remain with you forever.

Wine Country

The Central Valley in Northern California features some of the best grape and wine vineyards in the world. From Napa Valley to Lodi, more than a hundred vineyards can be found within a 30-120 minute drive from Sacramento. Drink world-class wine and enjoy yourself in the most scenic area of the state that appears to be summer and spring 365 days a year.

The Four Corners

Just a short drive (one or two hours) from monument valley, it’s just too tempting not to take a selfie at The Four Corners: the spot where four states touch borders. It’s also a part of, as well as overseen by, the Navajo and Hopi Nations. The Monument lies at the quadripoint, which intersects along the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. You’ll definitely want to try some delicious traditional Native American fried bread while you’re around.


Yosemite National Park, summer fun” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by moonjazz

Yosemite National Park spans the Sierra Nevada’s largest uninhabited area and is still regarded as the United States’ most popular destination for campers. With all sorts of wildlife, waterfall, and stunning hikes, the Park is a destination perfect for anyone in love with the outdoors. For those who really wish to take advantage of the surroundings, there are full-day trails available, as well as some more suited to families. You’ll want to choose a hiking trail that offers you sights of the Half Dome rock formation, and may even wish to consider climbing it.  There are hikes that last for two to three hours, with low-level elevation, such as the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail, in addition to more advanced walks, like the Half Dome trail, which could take an entire day. Each trail is marked with signs, and there’s even an occasional water station. Don’t expect cellular service, however. Despite its enormous size, most tourist activity occurs within the eight square mile Yosemite Valley. The most famous landmarks in the park reside here, such as El Capitan. Due to the huge number of visitors (four million a year), you’ll want to visit at the right time and start your morning earlier than normal.

California’s Bay Area

One of the reasons that people out west in Silicon Valley call San Francisco (along with the other cities that border the San Francisco Bay) as the “The Bay Area” is due to their public trail transit being one of the country’s more easy to understand, as well as more convenient. You can park somewhere inexpensive on the east side and make your way all around San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and visit such camping destinations as Walnut Creek, without spending much at all. Along a lengthy road journey, the area is a great end to a journey where you can take in some stunning sights while stretching your legs.

Monument Valley

You will only have to have seen a handful of westerns for the Monument Valley to appear at least vaguely familiar. The American West’s postcard-perfect landscape is a breathtaking destination worth devoting an entire day to. In fact, you’ll want to bring your camping gear along and spend the night here, as there are some wonderful opportunities for stargazing. The enormous rock buffs are found on the Utah-Arizona border off the Colorado Plateau, an area sacred to the Navajo people. While the Valley may not be as it was in the Old West and there’s not a showdown at noon in sight, the era of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid still holds a fascination for many, both in the U.S. and around the globe. America has long paid homage to what is perhaps the most famous period in its history. Of course, a number of elements of the West remain today. Whisky is still the tipple of choice for many Americans and card games have never gone out of fashion, especially as in the aforementioned Las Vegas, and have since found their way online. Card games have even merged with a modern technology known as bitcoin, a digital way to pay online. Casinos such as accept the currency, bringing classic card games into the right here and right now of modern day.

Redwood National Parks

Paying a visit to a forest with the world’s tallest trees has to be a tempting proposition to just about anyone: man, woman, or child. The redwood forests run along hundreds of miles from northern San Francisco right through to the Oregon border. There are two different types of redwoods in the over 20 redwood national and state parks: the coastal redwoods, which stretch to 260 feet, and the giant sequoias, which have the potential to reach 300 feet. If you want to really see the tallest redwoods, you will need to pay a visit to Prairie Creek Park. You’ll feel like you’re in a scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids when stood next to one of these beauties. Redwood National Parks is a must-visit for any lover of nature.

Las Vegas

The only entire city on the list, Vegas isn’t just your average city. From critically acclaimed shows performed by the likes of Cirque Du Soleil and Penn & Teller to world-class casinos such as Rio, Luxor, and MGM Grand, this desert city was designed to remain an oasis of creature comforts. Countless stage and musical performers have made Sin City their home over the years. While the next party is never far away (if that’s your thing), it’s the electricity, sights and lights of Vegas that ranks the city among the West’s must-visits, and cemented its place as a national treasure.


Yellowstone National Park – Artist Point” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Brook-Ward

Yellowstone National park was the first congress-established National Park and covers close to three and a half thousands square miles of a Wyoming region replete with rivers, canyons, lakes, and mountain ranges. So whether your outdoors preference is camping, hiking, or kayaking, or whether you would simply like to take some snaps of its famous geese, Yellowstone is a location that shouldn’t be missed. While in Old Faithful, take a breath to appreciate the fact that the world’s largest active super volcano, the Yellowstone Caldera, lies beneath your feet, powering the park. No other tourist attraction in the world can make that particular claim.

Some, if not all, of these destinations, you will undoubtedly be familiar with. Now, there’s the decision on which one/s to visit. Just remember, these are all good choices, and in the American west, it’s impossible to be disappointed when surrounded by some of the world’s most glorious vistas. Other popular destinations in the west include Mt. Rushmore, which showcases the visages of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, and received over three million visitors each year. Glacier National Then, of course, there’s Seattle, the Pacific Northwest’s jewel in the crown.

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