Arizona, the Grand Canyon State. California, the Golden State. These two alone hold much of America's natural beauty.
Sit back, and let me plan you a road trip.
If you're looking to plan a road trip around the American West, check out my first post, on Utah.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
If you’re looking to hit the highlights of Page, Arizona, the picturesque Horseshoe Bend (above) can be done in a weekend.
It’s an easy, 1.5 mile round trip hike to the overlook, where the sandstone cliffs drop 4,214 feet to the horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River.
The overlook is a photographer's dream, with sweeping panoramic views and backlit sunsets that are totally Instagram worthy.
Nearby you'll find Antelope Canyon, which is also worth a stop. You'll need a Navajo guide to go on the trip.
Lake Havasu, Arizona
Further south you’ll find warm Arizona sun (especially if road tripping in the shoulder months), and easy lakeside beach access to Lake Havasu.
Take in the quaint artisanal shops along the riverwalk, where you’ll also see the London Bridge, built in the 1830s then dismantled and moved to Havasu City in 1967.
If beaches are your thing, I recommend the ½ mile stretch of Body Beach or the popular, palm-lined Rotary Park beach. Both offer white sandy beaches, decently warm waters and plenty of lounging opportunities.
While you’re checking out this desert oasis hit the Havasupai Trail, with a 20-mile round trip hike to Havasupai Falls. The natural beauty of its blue-green waters, plunging 100 feet, is a reward in itself. This moderate-to-expert hike slopes through red Supai sandstone, sweeping landscapes, and the Supai Village.
Joshua Tree, California
Stunning landscapes and spiny Joshua trees (where do you think the place got its name?) dot the horizon in this quintessential Californian national park.
Make sure to peel yourself away from campsite lounging for day-hikes like the popular Ryan Mountain trail, which is known for its panoramic views of Pinto Basin and Lost Horse Valley.
Besides its protected areas, Joshua Tree also hosts Night Sky Festivals, photography workshops and several annual music festivals, like Desert Daze. All found on the National Parks website. I love to roadtrip in the fall for cooler temperatures but it also offers desert dwellers opportunity to glimpse the Leonid meteor shower that crosses the skies in November.
Not bad with a backdrop of iconic Joshua trees and azure- and coral-painted sunsets.