The Best Road Trip Checkpoints in the Southwest (USA)

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The following article is written by our guest writer Jayson Goetz.

The Southwest is one of the most stunning places to take a road trip in the United States. With what seems like never-ending chances to take in the wonder of nature, it is hands-down one of the most gorgeous regions to explore. There is an attitude of living life to the fullest with incredible foodie spots, breathtaking trips into the great outdoors, and partying until the sun comes up. Check out these road-trip worthy spots you have to visit on your journey through the Southwest.

Seven Magic Mountains

Driving through Las Vegas, your mind might be set on winning big in the casinos, but you would be crazy to pass up a stop at Seven Magic Mountains. This Swiss art statement is made up of seven towers of colorfully painted boulders and makes a statement on the human interaction with nature. Positioned between Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway, Seven Magic Mountains literally sits in the middle of the desert landscape. The art structure is a two-year installation, so it’s worth the trek to see it before it’s gone.

Las Vegas Strip

Would any trip to the Southwest be complete without at least one stop in Vegas? Come on, what do you really have to lose? Swing through Sin City and enjoy the nightlife from slots to shows and more. Even if gambling isn’t your game, there’s no place quite like Vegas to explore. Stroll through some of the elaborately decked out theme hotels like The Luxor or The Venetian that bring luxury to a whole new level. See a Circ du Soleil show and watch with wonder as the acrobats fly through the night sky. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, so your road trip stories are safe and sound.

Valley of Fire

Don’t let the name scare you, the Valley of Fire is one of the many wondrous natural creations in the Southwest. Known for its 40,000 acres of bold, red rock and 2,000-year-old petrified trees, Valley of Fire is a vast desert landscape with centuries worth of history to unfold. The state park is open 24/7 for hiking and camping throughout the valley. Stop off on your road trip to camp out overnight, and wake to the Southwest sun rising over the vast valley.

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is a man-made, concrete dam that sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona, intersecting the Colorado River. The dam was constructed during the 1930’s under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s term and named for President Herbert Hoover. Construction of the dam started as a way to prevent flooding of the Colorado River and produce hydroelectric power. Today you can tour the dam and look out over the observation deck. Add this historical stop on your road trip itinerary!

Grand Canyon

If this wasn’t already the first stop on your Southwest road trip, make sure to carve out plenty of time to explore the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is easily one of the most stunning natural sites in the country. With the deep canyon stretching out for miles and colors so rich, “grand” doesn’t even do it justice. The naturally formed canyon is a geologic wonderment dating back billions of years, and is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile in depth. Within the canyon are several Native American reservations in which tribes still reside today. Head to one of the overlooks within the park to get the best view of the canyon. For the best view though, strap on your shoes to hike the South Kaibab Trail. The stunning panoramic views from the trail will blow you away, but be sure to keep your feet planted firmly on the trail.

dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon

White Sands National Monument

When you picture the desert, you probably just see miles of flat, sandy ground, right? The White Sands National Monument might not be the same desert sand you picture, but this beautiful desert sand is unlike any other and a true beauty to behold. The sparkling white sand is so bright, that at first glance you might mistake it for snow and forget that you’re in the desert. Trail along the sand dunes for an intimate desert experience you won’t find anywhere else. After basking in the desert sun and sand, head to Albuquerque, New Mexico. See the birthplace of Breaking Bad and keep living out your favorite show’s legacy. Take a tour of where the infamous show was filmed, and keep your eyes peeled in case Walter White himself stops by. Albuquerque was also the filming spot for the Transformers series, so adventure is no stranger there.

Blue Hole

Canyons, white sand, blue holes – oh my! The Southwest does not disappoint when it comes to jaw-dropping natural creations. The Santa Rosa Blue Hole is yet another breathtaking spot to hit on your trip. The bright blue pool looks like an oasis amidst the dry desert backdrop. Stop in for a dip in the pool – or for a little scuba diving to mix things up.


The Southwest U.S. is the ultimate road trip experience, with never-ending natural wonders and sights to see. Hike your way through the desert to get the most out of what this awe-inspiring area has to offer. Stock up on road trip snacks, turn on the tunes, and set out on an adventure. You’re bound to find it in the Southwest.

Jayson Goetz

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