Best Places to Visit in the Southwest for Your Bucket List

Planning a Southwest USA road trip and looking for the best attractions not to miss? I’ve got you covered with this list featuring the best places to visit and things to do in the American Southwest that need to be on your USA bucket list.

Best Places to Visit in the American Southwest

I think the American Southwest has the most beautiful natural attractions from any region of the United States. No USA bucket list challenge is complete without visiting the South West.

Some of these must see places I have already visited and recommend and the rest are places that look so beautiful or sound so interesting that I have added them to my personal American Southwest bucket list. So read on if you are looking for inspiration and ideas for the best places to visit on your Southwest USA road trip.

(And make sure to check out my complete road trip packing list and road trip music playlist to make sure you have all your road trip essentials before you go!)

What States are in the Southwest?

There is no universally agreed definition on what constitutes the American Southwest. The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or the Southwest, always includes Arizona and New Mexico and usually includes adjacent portions of California, Colorado, Nevada and Utah.

Southwest USA Bucket List

Southwest USA bucket list
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Horseshoe Bend American Bucket List Challenge

  • See Horseshoe Bend, the beautiful natural horseshoe-shaped curve in the Colorado River.  This picture perfect view only requires an easy short 3/4 mile hike each way.

Antelope Canyon is a must on any USA Travel Bucket List

  • Take photos at Antelope Canyon. This sandstone slot canyon is made up of two sections (Upper and Lower) and is one of the most instagrammable places in the United States. Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo protected land and is only accessible via guided tours. Click here for more information about tours.
  • Hike to the Wave. Getting a hiking permit is very difficult since only 20 people are allowed each day.  Find out more about how to get a permit and other logistics here.
  • See White Pocket. This lesser known remote natural wonder is a great alternative if you cannot get a permit to the Wave. You need a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle or else it is best to book a tour.
  • Visit the Painted Desert, famous for its striking bands of colors.
  • Visit the Petrified Forest National Park.

Bryce Canyon is one of the top United States bucket list places


Arches National Park is a must on any American Southwest bucket list

  • Explore Arches National Park, home to the highest density of natural arches anywhere in the world.

Valley of Fire Southwest USA travel bucketlist

  • Explore the Valley of Fire State Park, full of red rock formations just an hour outside of Vegas. It is also home to the Fire Wave, a smaller version of the famous Wave in Utah/Arizona.
  • Visit the Arizona desert town of Sedona.
  • Visit the city of Flagstaff, surrounded by mountains, desert and pine forests. It is a gateway to the San Francisco Peaks which is home to Arizona’s tallest mountain (Humphreys Peak).
  • Take fun perspective pictures at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
  • Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a mostly underground attraction comprised of nearly 120 known caves carved from limestone deposited in an ancient sea.
  • Explore Death Valley National Park.

Read: California Bucket List: Best Places to Visit in California

  • Visit Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam on the border between Arizona and Nevada.
  • Explore Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital which is known for its Pueblo-style architecture and views of the Sangre de Cristo Rocky Mountains.
  • Visit Taos.
  • Take fun perspective pictures at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
  • Explore Goblin Valley State Park, which is full of thousands of tall hoodoos or goblins (formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles).
  • Drive part of Historic Route 66 which passes through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
  • If you don’t have time to drive Route 66, you can visit Seligman, Arizona (a retro town filled with neon signs, nostalgic treasures and classic cars) on your way to the Grand Canyon.

Need more travel bucket list inspiration? You might enjoy our other USA travel bucket lists:


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