Western USA in detail

Western USA is known for

Geology

Grand Canyon A 277-mile river cuts through two-billion-year-old rocks.

Yellowstone National Park Explosive geysers, rainbow-colored thermal pools and a supervolcano base.

Arches National Park Drive, hike or bike past sandstone arches, windows, fins and a precariously balanced rock.

White Sands National Monument Ripples of chalk-white dunes mesmerize photographers and sand sledders alike.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Descend to the 1800ft-long Big Room – a veritable underground cathedral concealed in a massive cave system.

Chiricahua National Monument A rugged wonderland of rock chiseled by rain and wind into pinnacles, bridges and balanced rocks.

Volcanoes The earth's shifting crust formed powerful volcanoes, like Mt Rainier or Mt St Helens, in Washington.

Dinosaur National Monument Touch a 150-million-year-old fossil at one of the largest dinosaur fossil beds in North America.

Yosemite National Park Granite mountains that have to be seen to be believed, and are loved by climbers.

Craters of the Moon An astonishing volcanic landscape riven with caves and lava tubes, in Idaho.

Old West Sites

Lincoln Historic Site Billy the Kid’s old stomping – and shooting – grounds during the Lincoln County War.

Tombstone Famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral, this dusty town is also home to Boot Hill Graveyard and the Bird Cage Theater.

Whiskey Row A block of Victorian-era saloons in downtown Prescott has survived fires, filmmakers and tourists.

Pony Express Stations Rte 50 across Nevada, known as the Loneliest Road, traces the route of the Pony Express.

Virginia City Site of the Comstock Lode silver strike, this hard-charging mining town gained notoriety in Mark Twain’s semi-autobiographical book Roughing It.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Channel the Old West on the steam-driven train that’s chugged between Durango and Silverton for 125 years.

Wyoming Territorial Prison The only prison ever to hold Butch Cassidy, in Laramie, Wyoming.

Garnet Ghost Town Poignant Montana outpost of a gold-rush boom town, now deserted.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West Cody museum that captures the spirit of an Old West icon.

Film & TV Locations

Los Angeles Hollywood was born here, and iconic celluloid sites beckon from Mulholland Dr to Malibu.

Monument Valley Stride John Wayne tall beneath the iconic red monoliths that starred in seven of the Duke’s Westerns.

Las Vegas Bad boys and their hijinks brought Sin City back to the big screen in Ocean's Eleven and The Hangover.

Moab The directors of Thelma & Louise and 127 Hours shot their most dramatic scenes in nearby parks.

Albuquerque The backdrop for the TV series Better Call Saul and hit predecessor Breaking Bad.

Kanab From Stagecoach to Planet of the Apes, Kanab has been a Hollywood favorite since the 1930s.

Fabulous Food

San Francisco Temptations await: real-deal taquerias and trattorias, top-notch Vietnamese, magnificent farmers markets and trailblazing chefs.

Chez Panisse Chef Alice Waters revolutionized California cuisine in the ’70s with seasonal Bay Area locavorian cooking.

Santa Fe The best Southwestern flavors are found in the chile-laced New Mexican capital.

Las Vegas Great food is never a gamble in Sin City, with famous chefs and flavor-rich world cuisine.

Food Trucks LA sparked the mobile gourmet revolution, but the food-truck craze also thrives, well, everywhere.

Green Chiles Roasted, stewed and slathered over enchiladas and cheeseburgers. Celebrate them at the Hatch Chile Festival.

Emerging Wine Regions

Verde Valley Wine Country Home to an up-and-coming Arizona wine trail that winds through Cottonwood, Jerome and Cornville.

Willamette Valley Outside Portland, OR, this fertile region produces some of the tastiest Pinot Noir on the planet.

Walla Walla Washington’s hot wine-growing region, with its namesake town as a very pretty centerpiece.

Santa Barbara Wine Country Large-scale winemaking since the 1980s, and the climate is perfect for Pinots near the coast and further inland.

Idaho Wine Country Small but growing wine-producing region with more than 50 wineries in the state's west.

Hiking

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Earn bragging rights on this classic 17-mile trek.

Red Rock Country Hike to vortexes in Sedona, hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, and slender spans in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park Longs Peak gets all the buzz, but there are summits, waterfalls, glacial lakes and trails galore.

Wonderland Trail Circumnavigate Mt Rainier’s lofty peak – it’s 93 miles of spectacular nature.

Maroon Bells There's a reason Aspen's breathtaking alpine backdrop has become the quintessential Colorado photograph.

Zion National Park Slot canyons, hanging gardens and lofty scrambles make this stunner an unmissable destination.

Highline Trail A natural high in Glacier National Park, passing bighorn sheep, mountain wildflowers and snowcapped peaks, with a side-hike to glacier views.

Ruby Crest Trail A stunningly beautiful, little-known hike through Nevada's Alps.

Pacific Crest Trail It's 2650 spectacular miles from Canada to Mexico.

Half Dome Yosemite National Park's most spectacular trail.

National Parks

Yellowstone The nation’s first park is a stunner: lakes, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife galore and a cauldron of geysers and springs.

Grand Canyon Two billion years of geological history? Yeah, yeah, that’s cool, but have you seen that view?

Grand Teton Grazing bison, prowling grizzlies and snowcapped dagger peaks erupting from the valley floor.

Yosemite Flanked by El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite Valley is indeed cathedral-like, but the lush Sierra Nevada backcountry will have you singing hallelujah, too.

Southern Utah There’s too much red-rock goodness in Utah to narrow it down to one fave. Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef – see ’em all!

Great Sand Dunes You can rub your eyes all you like, this massive sea of sand is no mirage. It's also one of the quietest places in the US.

Glacier Believed by many to be the most spectacular park in the US.

Rocky Mountain Wildlife-rich backcountry and wonderful landscapes in northern Colorado.

Weird Stuff

Route 66 This two-lane ode to Americana is dotted with wacky roadside attractions.

Burning Man Festival A temporary city in the Nevada desert hosts a week of self-expression, gifting and blowing sand.

Roswell Did a UFO crash outside Roswell, NM, in 1947? The truth is out there.

Seattle’s Public Sculptures In Fremont, look for a car-eating troll, a human-faced dog, and folks waiting, and waiting, for the train.

Venice Boardwalk Gawk at the human zoo, which includes chainsaw-jugglers, medical marijuana 'clinicians' and Speedo-clad snake-charmers.

Frozen Dead Guy Days Celebrates a cryogenically frozen Norwegian, kept cold in Nederland, CO, for more than 20 years.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures The exhibits get small – very small – at this whimsical museum in Tucson.

Museums

Getty Center & Getty Villa Art museums as beautiful as their ocean views in west LA and Malibu.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art More than 150,000 works of art spanning the ages and crossing all borders.

California Academy of Sciences SF’s natural-history museum breathes ‘green’ in its eco-certified design, with a four-story rain forest and living roof.

Meow Wolf Just one of Santa Fe's fabulous cultural treasures, but definitely the most far out.

Heard Museum Highlights the history and culture of Southwestern tribes.

Museum of Pop Culture Enjoy a little fantasy, a little sci-fi and a lot of rock n roll at this Seattle museum.

National Museum of Wildlife Art The wildlife of the American West on canvas, in Jackson, WY.

Museum of the Rockies The world's biggest T-Rex skeleton and other really big dinosaurs.

Neon Museum One of few places in Las Vegas where history is preserved, in the neon graveyard.

Native American History & Culture

Mesa Verde National Park Climb to cliff dwellings that housed Ancestral Puebloans more than 700 years ago.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Essential introduction to New Mexico's 19 Pueblos.

Acoma Pueblo Native guides lead guests on a history-filled tour through Sky City, a mesa-top village dating back to the 11th century.

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Excellent overview of the origins and history of all the Native peoples living in the Southwest.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Native American battlefields where General George Custer made his famous ‘Last Stand’ against the Lakota Sioux.

Chaco Canyon The enigmatic remains of what was once the cultural hub of the Four Corners, some 1000 years ago.

Petroglyph National Monument One of many sites at which to ponder ancient petroglyphs, with some 23,000 examples.

Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian Sublime collection of Navajo, Zuni and Hopi jewelry.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park The old buffalo hunting grounds of northern Montana.

Cody Mid-June powwow of the Shoshone and the Plains Indian Museum.

Spas & Resorts

Ojo Caliente Minerals Springs Resort & Spa Premier hot springs retreat at this 145-year-old resort in northern New Mexico.

Riverbend Hot Springs Soak in hot springs beside the Rio Grande, where pools bubble with soothing, hydro-healing warmth.

Ten Thousand Waves Japanese-style soaking pools in the hills outside Santa Fe.

Phoenix & Scottsdale Honeymooners, families, golfers – there’s a resort for every type of traveler within a few miles of Camelback Rd.

Las Vegas Mandalay Bay, Cosmopolitan and other top hotels offer lavish resort amenities.

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa On the Gila Indian Reservation, this resort embraces its Native American heritage with style.

Meadow Creek Tiny House Resort & Spa Little-known gem of a spa near the Sawtooth Range in Idaho.

Chico Hot Springs Mineral hot springs in the suitably named Paradise Valley.

Wildlife

Yellowstone National Park A world wildlife highlight, with bears, grizzlies, bison and more.

Rocky Mountain National Park Home to moose, bear and about a million elk.

Glacier National Park Bears in a remote and beautiful wilderness area.

Puget Sound Watch for whales year-round with resident orcas.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge More than 100,000 migratory birds roost here late October through March

Antelope Island Some 600 bison roam Utah's Antelope Island alongside hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.

Southern Arizona Patagonia and Sierra Vista are hotspots for birdwatching, with plenty of mammals nearby.

Great Basin National Park See Bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, and even mountain lions if you're lucky.

Desert National Wildlife Refuge Mountain lions chase bighorn sheep in southern Nevada.

Klamath Basin Watching the incredible bald eagle migration in February when the birds come to hunt wild geese.

Craft Beer

Ballard It's difficult to choose just one place up in the Pacific Northwest, so we'll go with this happening Seattle neighborhood.

Bend This Oregon town has the highest number of breweries per capita in the West.

Fort Collins A fun-loving college town filled with some of America's most beloved microbreweries, including innovative upstarts.

Marble Brewery With a view of the Sandia Mountains, the rooftop deck is a fine place to sip a Red Ale

Salt Lake City The city's exploding craft beer scene offers a growing number of buzzy brewpubs.

Great Basin Brewing Co A fun, low key place to test the fruits of a working brewery.

Montana More than 70 craft breweries across the state from Billings and Bozeman to Helena.

Snake River Brewing Co Brilliant brewpub in beautiful Jackson, WY.