Adventures in the American Southwest

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If you’re a boomer traveler looking for adventures in the American Southwest, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a part of the United States that we love to explore, and know well.

From hiking to biking to bird watching to simply exploring, this region of the U.S. has it all. Active boomer travelers will find more than enough to do. We promise!

What you'll learn about travel in the American Southwest from this page

  • Which states make up the American Southwest?
  • When is the best time to explore the American Southwest?
  • How to plan a trip to the Southwestern U.S.
  • Things to do in Arizona
  • Fun adventures in Utah
  • Places to visit in New Mexico
  • Active travel fun in southern Colorado
  • What to see in Texas
  • Best destinations in southern California

Which states make up the American Southwest?

According to my research, the states included in the American Southwest depends on whom you ask. Arizona and New Mexico are the heart of the region. But most experts also include Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado and parts of Texas. Those are the destinations that we’ll feature here.

When is the best time to visit the American Southwest?

I recommend avoiding the hot summer temperatures in favor of spring or fall. Winter is also a fine time to explore, however higher elevations might have snow. Plus you’ll run into the winter snowbird crowds, especially in southern Arizona.

How do you plan your American Southwest trips?

When researching road trips, as well as off-road adventures, The Bench Press Road & Recreation Atlas is our go-to guide. You’ll find individual versions for all the western states.

When it comes to hiking, we are big fans of Falcon Guide hiking books. Again, you can find versions by state, national park or even regions of the U.S.

And if you’re looking to visit a national park in the American Southwest, start your research at our national park adventures page. Road trippers will want to check out our US road trips page for more southwestern travel ideas. Now let’s get started on what you came here for—adventure!

Boomer Travel Tip

Come back often as we continue to add new southwestern U.S. travel adventures to this page. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet Weekly Broadcast to be the first to know!

Things to do in Arizona

After living in Tucson, Arizona, for eleven years, it’s safe to say that we know active travel in the state. We spent much of our time hiking, four-wheeling, road tripping and exploring. What might surprise you is the geographical diversity in Arizona. From mountains to the desert, there’s an adventure for every style of boomer travel.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley Scenic Drive (Everything You Need to Know)

Are you planning a road trip in the American Southwest? A scenic drive in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park on the border of Arizona and Utah places you in the middle of nature’s wonderland of spires, buttes and red rock creations. Grab your camera (I am currently learning how to use a Sony Mirrorless with […]

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White Pocket

Exploring the White Pocket on a Boomer Adventure in Arizona

If anything piques our travel radar, it’s exploring the many off-the beaten-path travel destinations located throughout the American Southwest. Guest writer, Bill Haskamp, is here to tell us all about one of the most remarkable and isolated sites in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument as we go exploring White Pocket, Arizona. Discover an off-the-beaten-path adventure in […]

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36 Hours in Tucson for the Active Baby Boomer

When it comes to American Southwest adventures, Tucson is full of them. Having lived in this southwestern city for eleven years, I can safely say active boomer travelers won’t be bored. But what if you have to cram all of that adventure into 36 hours? Finding fun in Tucson in only 36 hours How do […]

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monument valley

5 Adventures on the Navajo Rez

Exploring the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona is one of my favorite baby boomer travel memories. However, with just two visits under my belt, I’m far from an expert. Not to worry. Vera Marie Badertscher became extremely familiar with the area during the ten years that she researched her current book, which she co-authored with […]

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lower-antelope-canyon-arizona

Discovering Arizona’s slot canyons

Water Holes, Lower Antelope, Upper Antelope. Are these the names of hiking trails? No, they’re Arizona slot canyons located on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona. Alan and I discovered the photogenic gems while on a photo workshop. But you don’t have to be a boomer photographer to enjoy exploring canyons carved by nature’s power. Walking […]

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Mummys Cave

Exploring Canyon de Chelly on a four-wheel-drive adventure

What would you rather do? Peer down into a canyon from the rim drive or venture inside? If you chose being in the canyon, then we recommend exploring Canyon de Chelly by four-wheel-drive. For an introduction to off-roading, Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinlé, Arizona, offers baby boomers easy to moderate driving challenges in […]

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Stone Formations in Chiricahua National Monument

Traveling Off the Beaten Path in the Chiricahuas

We’re often asked about our favorite off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. In Arizona, that would have to be Chiricahua National Monument. Whether camping or RVing in Bonita Canyon campground or staying at nearby Sunglow Ranch, active travelers will get their fill of hikes, 4-wheel driving, exploring history or photographing the scenery in a less-crowded southeastern Arizona setting. […]

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North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim: The Grand Canyon’s other side

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is my favorite. It’s less crowded. Plus a ponderosa pine forest leads right up to the edge, which gives this side of the canyon a totally different feel. Alan and I discovered the North Rim on a fall national park road trip that took us from Arizona to […]

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sonoita-countryside-arizona

Finding Montana in Arizona

Experience the sweeping open range of Montana in southeastern Arizona. What? I bet you think this baby boomer traveler has lost her mind. If Tucson, Arizona is on your list of boomer travel destinations, save time for an off-the-beaten-path road trip to Parker Canyon Lake in the Coronado National Forest. I promise, you’ll find scenery […]

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Boomer Travel Tip

Have you seen my grayscale coloring book, Coloring the West? It’s a fun way to remember you adventures in the American Southwest.

Fun adventures in Utah

Besides Arizona, Utah is our favorite state to explore in the Southwestern U.S. With five national parks, numerous state parks, plenty of hiking and off-road trails, your dilmmea will be which adventure to choose first.

How to Visit Valley of the Gods in Southeastern Utah

Let me take you on a Valley of the Gods tour, one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path Utah destinations. Alan’s, too. It’s the very best kind of do-it-yourself adventure. If you’ve hung around My Itchy Travel Feet for very long, you know that Alan and I enjoy nothing better than to take the road less traveled. […]

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Driving the Burr Trail is a fun experience in southern Utah.

Driving the Burr Trail on a Boomer Road Trip in Southern Utah

Alan and I are huge fans of exploring the country lanes and dirt roads of the United States. And when it comes to finding adventure in the American Southwest, a bumpy dirt road is the place to be. On a visit to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, we had our pick of dirt roads […]

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Muddy river winding through a canyon surrounded by cliffs at Dead Horse Point Overlook

Explore Dead Horse Point State Park on a Scenic Drive

As beautiful drives go, a Dead Horse Point State Park scenic drive is on the short side. It’s a little over a mile from the Visitor Center to Dead Horse Point Overlook where visitors look down for a gobsmacking view of a gooseneck in the Colorado River while contemplating how this Utah destination got its […]

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Hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante

Waterfall hikes are a treat while on an American Southwest adventure in the rugged high desert. Nothing’s better than feeling the spray from a waterfall after a traveling along a hot, sunny trail. It’s a special treat when that waterfall is located in one of the off-the-beaten path national parks that Alan and I treasure. […]

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Muddy river winding through a canyon surrounded by cliffs at Dead Horse Point Overlook

Five Fun Places to Go in Southern Utah

When it comes to visiting Utah, boomers will find plenty to see and do. The entire state is an active traveler’s paradise. You could spend most of your southern Utah vacation exploring the Mighty 5—Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. But if you’ve been there and done that, it’s time to experience the […]

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Flying in a Hot Air Balloon Over Bluff, Utah

When Alan and I attended the 2010 Bluff Balloon Festival in Bluff, we enjoyed a boomer trip to Utah that included our favorite activities—photography and exploring. But what we really longed to do was fly in a hot air balloon. During check-in at our accommodations, Desert Rose Inn, I mentioned to innkeeper Cindy Tumeh that […]

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Drive Highway 12 Scenic Byway on a fun road trip in southern Utah.

How to Drive Highway 12 Scenic Byway in Southern Utah

It’s no secret here at My Itchy Travel Feet that Alan loves road trips. When we decided to drive Highway 12 Scenic Byway on a late spring road trip through southern Utah, he walked around the house for days with a big grin on his face. But this last-minute trip, while beautiful, proved to be […]

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The Best Parks in Utah for Baby Boomers

Discover the best parks in Utah for boomer travelers. Our first-person articles will inspire your next Utah national park road trip or a state park adventure.

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outdoor fire pit with tents in the background

Let’s Go Glamping at Bear Lake

Are you interested in an outdoor vacation that doesn’t include roughing it? Glamping at Bear Lake in northern Utah offers lodging in a natural setting so that you can enjoy the outdoors and have your luxury, too. Guest contributor and glamper extraordinaire, Anna Reid, shares her Bear Lake glamping experience at Conestoga Ranch. From a […]

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Places to visit in New Mexico

Our adventures in New Mexico have included some truly unique experiences. It’s not hard to go off-the-beaten-path in this state. And there’s so much to explore!

a group of earthen buildings with a ladder

Active Travel In Taos, New Mexico

If you’re looking for active travel ideas in Taos, New Mexico, we can help! the region is filled with Native American culture, beautiful hikes and gorgeous drives like the High Road to Taos. Enveloped by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is especially lively, and well-known for its active travel options. From mountain adventures, to […]

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new mexico road trip

New Mexico Backroads Adventure

There’s nothing that Alan and I like better than an off-the-beaten-travel experience, especially if it includes a fun, boomer road trip. Here’s a New Mexico backroads trip that’s one of our favorites. It includes national monuments and out-of-the-way destinations with plenty of history. New Mexico backroads trip itinerary starting from Tucson At the My Itchy […]

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White Sands Monument

Two Off the Beaten Path Treasures for New Mexican Travel

When it comes to New Mexican travel, you won’t find a more vibrant state in the US. From colorful Santa Fe to off-the-beaten-path El Morro active boomers will find plenty of adventure. Our previous trips to the Land of Enchantment have been nothing short of spectacular, especially our New Mexico Backroads Adventure. Guest writer, Sam […]

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos, New Mexico

Driving New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle

Do you like to travel around in circles on a boomer road trip? A drive on New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Highway  does just that, offering scenery, activities, and unique stops as it circumnavigates Wheeler Peak (13,161 feet), New Mexico’s highest point. Every circle needs a start. To begin the circuitous journey, take NM Highway 522 north […]

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Take the High Road To Taos

Have you driven the High Road To Taos while visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico? This scenic road is a great way to get out of town for a bit. Or do like Alan and I did when we drove the High Road, spend a couple of nights on a Taos getaway before returning to “The […]

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El Morro National Monument

History’s Written in Stone at El Morro

Here’s an off-the-beaten-path adventure that will intrigue you. El Morro National Monument is located in the northwestern corner of New Mexico on SR 53. For centuries, travelers and explorers have stopped to rest and replenish themselves at an oasis of water wedged into the base of this sandstone outcropping that overlooks the high desert. Before […]

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Boomer Travel Tip

Are you looking for a short guidebook on a fun, New Mexico road trip? Check out my ebook: New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

Active travel fun in southern Colorado

While I don’t consider the entire state of Colorado to be in the American Southwest, southern Colorado definitely qualifies. Alan and I especially enjoy the area from Mesa Verde National Park north to Ouray.

4 wheeling Yankee Boy Basin Trail

4 wheeling Yankee Boy Basin in Ouray, Colorado

Want to visit Colorado alpine country up close and personal? 4 wheeling Yankee Boy Basin Trail will satisfy any active boomer traveler’s longing for mountain scenery combined with a little adventure. Along the way, you’ll discover the remnants of old mines wedged into the sides of the canyon.  If there’s been a good snow year, the waterfalls […]

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Colorado's Alpine Loop

Driving the Alpine Loop in One Day on a Boomer Road Trip Adventure

Is it possible to drive the Alpine Loop on a one-day itinerary? Yes, it is. Alan and I enjoyed this scenic drive on trip to southwestern Colorado. The Alpine Loop in the San Juan Mountains introduces off-roaders to high-country scenery and Colorado mining history. It’s best explored on a 2 or 3-day Alpine Loop itinerary […]

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Visit Ouray, Colorado

Go Off-the-Beaten-Path in Ouray, Colorado

Do you have a favorite off-the-beaten-path mountain town in Colorado? For Alan and me, Ouray takes that honor. Situated at 7,700 ft in the San Juan Mountains, the former mining town is a quaint counterpart to upscale Telluride—a skip and a jump over the mountains to the west. When it comes to charm combined with fun […]

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What to see in Texas

Texas is one BIG state! I remember when Alan and I were moving from Virginia to Arizona. It took two days to drive through Texas. That’s a lot of territory to explore. These ideas will get you started.

hawk in a tree

Birding South Texas on a Rio Grande Valley Road Trip

Did you know that the birding in South Texas is world class? For avid birdwatchers, stopping to observe the birds is a fun addition to a Rio Grande Valley road trip itinerary.  James Richardson is here with the best places to go for birding in South Texas. What a unique U.S. road trip! There is […]

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Cadillac Ranch

Southwestern road trip stop: the wild sights of Amarillo, Texas

Are you looking for fun things to do in Amarillo, Texas? The city makes an interesting Southwestern road trip stop that’s worth your time. When a conference took travel writers Debi Lander and Judy Wells to South Dakota, they decided to make the most out of it and explore the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. They […]

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San Antonio, Beyond the Alamo

Although many would be wise to pay heed to the warning, “Don’t mess with Texas” when it comes to active travel, the Lone Star State has a wealth of interesting sites as well as its own rich history to explore. Guest writer, Sam Lowe, explains the best way to see one of the state’s most […]

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Visit Beaumont-Port Arthur on a Texas Road Trip

In our opinion, the American Southwest is best experienced on a road trip. If your Southwest itinerary happens to travel across Texas, don’t miss Beaumont-Port Arthur. With so many things to see and do, Kathleen Walls from Global Highways and Byways helps you sort it all out with her tips on how to visit Beaumont-Port […]

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large buildings behind a brige

Discovering Authentic Austin

Austin, Texas has really seen a major boom in tourism over the last few years. Known for its famous South by Southwest festival, the city seems to get more and more vibrant every year, and offers loads of active travel options. If the Texas capital’s popularity has piqued your interest, guest contributor Cheryl Rodewig is […]

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Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon

Hiking Adventure in Big Bend National Park

If you’re looking for another off-the-beaten-path National Park adventure, look no further than Big Bend National Park. This beautiful area on the Texas-Mexico border is a prime destination for hikers, bird watchers, photographers and nature lovers. Sounds like boomer adventure land to us! Deborah Lonergan explains why we should experience a Big Bend National Park hiking […]

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Best destinations in southern California

California is another vast U.S. state. And the southern half definitely qualifies as the American Southwest. From beaches along the Pacific Coast to Death Valley National Park, there’s plenty to experience.

Sunset in Palm Springs

Active Weekend Getaway in Palm Springs

In its heyday, Palm Springs was a magnet for the rich and famous, subsequently earning its nickname, “The Playground of the Stars.” Although some may think the city has become somewhat of a cliché, Palm Springs has really managed to maintain a proud “old Hollywood” elegance and even has quite a few options for active […]

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horses-barn-paso-robles-california

Learning to Drive a Stagecoach in Paso Robles

The vehicle creaked and swayed. I grabbed a leather handle to keep my balance as we veered around a sharp curve. Alan, riding shotgun, called down from above, “Are you okay?” What kind of baby boomer adventure is this? Why, we’re experiencing the old west on a stagecoach ride at Harris Stage Lines in Paso […]

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nancy-brown-horseback-riding-ca

California Horseback Riding Recommendations for Road Tripping Baby Boomers

Baby boomers, as you know, Alan and I will soon be traveling on a coastal California sports car road trip. Since we’re always on the lookout for active baby boomer travel adventures, we asked travel expert, Nancy D. Brown of Writing Horseback to suggest a couple of California horseback riding adventures for the trip. Thanks […]

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Death Valley Travel

Death Valley Travel Tips for a Summer Visit

Although off-the-beaten-path travel usually leads to amazing experiences, the thought of spending time in a place called Death Valley could scare off even the hardiest of boomer travelers. Did you know that Death Valley is the hottest and driest national park in the US? Visiting a hostile environment like Death Valley, especially on a summer […]

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Medocino

Coastal California Road Trip

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Fort Ross State Park

Off the Wine Trail in Sonoma County

Traveling on a Coastal California road trip is one of our favorite memories—the scenery—the food—the wine—it’s all good. But what if you’re not a wine lover? Will you find enough to do when your road trip reaches Sonoma County?  Today’s guest writer and photographer, Noel Morata from behind Travel, says “absolutely” if you follow his advice for going off […]

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