World → North America → S.W. USA
One of the best hiking regions in the world is the
SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES Top 10
- four super hiking states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona
- high, dry desert
- Grand Canyon is the most famous attraction, but there are a half dozen more attractions just as exciting: Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Paria, The Wave, Monument Valley, etc.
- colourful, sculpted sandstone
- easy walking on slip rock
- great hiking almost anywhere
- best weather Oct-Nov, Mar-May
WHY WE LIKE THIS REGION
- most of the best slot canyons of the world
- almost all the natural stone arches of the world
- some of the best day hikes in the world including Angel’s Landing and Zion Narrows
- very few biting flies
- easy access from Salt Lake City, Vegas, Phoenix and other major airports
- it’s a photographers dream: sandstone monoliths, towers, and other unique geological structures
- the “Grand” canyon of the Colorado river is not nearly the deepest in the world, but we feel it’s the most beautiful
- the tourist infrastructure is surprisingly undeveloped
- very few good hostels. Tent or stay in chain motels.
- includes all of the amazing Colorado Plateau
- many special geological features
- First Nations cultural and spiritual associations
- by far the biggest downside of this region is lack of water
- real risk of getting lost
- in the desert you can suffer heat stroke in the day, hypothermia at night
- you could hike year round, but Jul-Aug is very, very hot
- very basic backcountry campgrounds. Few huts or cook houses. Tenting essential
- you really need a personal vehicle. Public transportation is terrible.
- backcountry permits are required on most major hikes
- mobile phones probably will not work
- flooding is a slight concern. Drowning in slot canyons a much larger worry.
- black widow spiders, centipedes, scorpions, rattlesnakes and tarantulas live here. They are normally not a bother.
- human/dog waste bags required in the Grand Canyon
- On the Colorado river the Hoover Dam (1930s) and the Glen Canyon Dam (1960s) altered the landscape drastically, not always for the worse
See ALL S.W. BEST HIKES on our North America page.