Welcome to The Southwest
The Southwest is America's untamed playground, luring adventurous travelers with thrilling red-rock landscapes, the legends of shoot-’em-up cowboys and the kicky delights of green chile stew. Reminders of the region’s Native American heritage and hardscrabble Wild West heyday dot the landscape, from enigmatic pictographs and abandoned cliff dwellings to crumbling Hispanic missions and rusty mining towns. Today, history making continues, with astronomers and rocket builders peering into star-filled skies while artists and entrepreneurs flock to urban centers and quirky mountain towns. The best part for travelers? A splendid network of scenic drives linking the most beautiful and iconic sites. But remember: it’s not just iconic, larger-than-life landscapes that make a trip through the Southwest memorable. Study that saguaro up close; ask a Hopi artist about their craft; savor that green-chile stew. You may just cherish those moments the most.
The Great Outdoors
Beauty and adventure are a fun-loving team in the Southwest. They crank up the rapids, unleash the singletrack, add blooms to the trail and drape a sunset across red rocks. This captivating mix of scenery and possibility lures travelers who want to rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually. The big draw is the Grand Canyon, a two-billion-year-old wonder that shares its geologic treasures with a healthy dose of fun. Next door in Utah and Nevada, the red rocks will nourish your soul while thrashing your bike. In Colorado and New Mexico, skiing the steeps and climbing peaks never looked so good.
The Southwest wears its history on its big, sandy sleeve. A decade before the Pilgrims even landed at Plymouth Rock, Santa Fe was already a capital city – albeit in what was then another country. Dig quite a bit deeper and you’ll find the oldest ruins north of Mexico: the great houses in Chaco Canyon, the cliff houses at Mesa Verde and numerous others sites scattered throughout the Four Corners. The descendants of these early cultures now live in Pueblo villages at Hopi, Acoma, Taos and elsewhere, the oldest continuously inhabited homes in the United States.
The arrival of the Spanish missionaries and settlers – and their subsequent interactions and conflicts over the centuries with the Pueblos, Navajo, Apache and, eventually, the Americans – laid the foundations for the unique multicultural mix that defines the Southwest today. Tribal traditions and imagery influence art across the region. Cowboys still roam the landscape, and their cultural legacy remains apparent in fashion, festivals and local attitudes. And Hispanic and Mexican cultures, of course, remain an integral part of daily life, from the place names, language and food to headlines about immigration.
Green chile cheeseburgers and red chile posole in New Mexico. Sonoran dogs and huevos rancheros in Tucson. Grilled trout and bison short ribs in Colorado. Regional specialties are pleasingly diverse in the Southwest and sampling homegrown fare is a big reason to get excited about an upcoming trip. Top restaurants are increasingly focused on fresh and locally grown fare – and providing a solid selection of craft brews. The ever-expanding crop of small batch breweries, distilleries and vineyards that have taken the region by storm provide the perfect accompaniment to those smothered blue-corn enchiladas or the gastronomic excesses of Vegas.