TOP 10 most beautiful landscapes in the Southwestern United States
During your future western US road trip, expect to see some of the most unique and beautiful scenery on the planet.
From Zion National Park to Yosemite Valley, from vertiginous canyons to the rugged Pacific coast, you'll be amazed by the sheer scale and variety of landscapes that unfold before you.
Which one do you think deserves the top spot in our list?
# 10 - Lake Tahoe
Region: California / Nevada
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is a crystal-clear jewel of a lake that straddles the border of California and Nevada.
A real corner of paradise for lovers of adventure and great outdoors, this alpine lake surrounded by lush forest and majestic peaks can be visited year-round and offers a host of activities: downhill skiing in winter (its resorts are reputed to be among the best in the country), and water sports, swimming and hiking in summer.
For a great view of the lake and surrounding mountains, I recommend the hike to Inspiration Point in Emerald Bay State Park, or the Mount Tallac Trail, which is more challenging but offers a truly spectacular view.
# 9 - Bryce Canyon Amphitheater
Region: Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is considered to be one of the most beautiful parks in the United States.
It is characterized by its unique geological formations called "hoodoos" or fairy chimneys.
For a close look at these gigantic red sandstone spires, I recommend taking the Queen's Garden Trail down into the heart of the amphitheater.
The Rim Trail, a walking trail that follows the edge of the cliff above the amphitheatre, provides easy access to some of the park's most breathtaking views.
# 8 - Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, a geological phenomenon whose story began two billion years ago, is a quintessential symbol of the American West.
Located in Arizona, it is protected by a park that covers more than 4500 km2.
The canyon's South Rim is more accessible than the North Rim and has a greater number of spectacular viewpoints. It is open year-round.
- Helicopter tour: if ever you wanted to treat yourself, now is the time. I don't have to tell you what an incredible experience it is.
- Rim Trail: an easy hiking trail that runs directly along the Grand Canyon and offers a series of breathtaking views.
- Desert View Drive: a scenic 40-km stretch of road that leads to several viewpoints of the Colorado River.
# 7 - Zabriskie Point
Region: Death Valley National Park
You simply must go to Death Valley National Park east of Furnace Creek to see this surprising panorama of white, brown and orange hues.
Zabriskie Point is surrounded by Badlands with hardly a trace of vegetation.
This lunar landscape of cliffs, canyons and deep gulches is the result of millions of years of erosion.
For the best light conditions, try to visit Zabriskie point around sunrise or sunset.
# 6 - Angels Landing
Region: Zion National Park
Angels Landing is the name of a world-famous and popular hike in Zion National Park.
This is a place where adjectives like spectacular, grandiose and breathtaking take on their full meaning: the scenery and views are entirely worthy of them.
The last section of the trail is difficult and dangerous. Barely 1 metre wide in places, it is equipped with chains bolted into the cliff to help hikers reach the summit, where a 360-degree panoramic view of the canyon awaits them.
Victim of its own success, this popular hike can be very busy. Set out early in the morning to avoid the crowds...
# 5 - Mesa Arch
Region: Canyonland National Park
Located near Moab, Utah, Canyonlands National Park offers an endless diversity of dramatic desert landscapes featuring canyons, mesas, and towering rock pinnacles.
In my opinion, the most spectacular of these is the view from the famous Mesa Arch, which is said to be particularly photogenic at sunrise.
Perched on the edge of the cliff, the arch proudly frames a stunning landscape.
An easy trail leads to the arch, where you will discover a majestic view that will remain etched in your memory.
# 4 - Glacier Point
Region: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in California is known around the world for its gorgeous scenery. With its powerful waterfalls and towering granite cliffs, it's a real feast for the eyes.
The view from Glacier Point is considered the most beautiful (an understatement!) in the park.
Accessible by car, the lookout offers a stunning view of Yosemite Valley, the massive Half Dome, and Vernal, Nevada and Yosemite Falls.
It's definitely a postcard-worthy setting. But even more beautiful.
# 3 - The Big Sur coast
Big Sur is a rugged 14-kilometre stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon.
Traversed by Highway 1, the picturesque region offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean with towering cliffs, heavenly beaches and small rocky coves.
Be sure to keep an eye out: it's not uncommon to see whales, seals, sea lions and dolphins from the many lookouts along the highway.
- Nepenthe Cafe: perched on top of a cliff, the cafe's patio offers stunning ocean views.
- McWay Falls: a 24-metre waterfall that flows onto a deserted beach or, at high tide, directly into the Pacific Ocean.
- Pfeiffer beach: a lovely wild beach known for its massive natural rock arch and purple-tinged sand.
- Bixby Bridge: this photogenic bridge is the gateway to the Big Sur region.
# 2 - Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a meander of the Colorado River which, as its name suggests, has the shape of a horseshoe.
Located near Page and Lake Powell in Arizona, the site can be reached by a short 20-minute walk that leads to a spectacular view.
More than 340 meters below, the emerald waters of the Colorado River meander around the base of steep ochre-colored cliffs.
- Keep a close eye on young children, even though there are safety barriers.
- Bring a wide-angle lens to capture the entire view.
- Be sure to bring water and protect yourself from the sun.
- I recommend visiting in the afternoon, as in the morning a large part of the bend is in shadow.
# 1 - Monument Valley
Region: Utah / Arizona
Legendary, unique, grandiose: it's hard to find the right words to do justice to the landscapes of Monument Valley.
Located along the border between Arizona and Utah, this unique site belonging to the Navajo Nation can be visited on foot, on horseback or by car, alone or accompanied by a Navajo guide.
Whether along the road leading into this legendary western setting or in front of the famous Mittens, this sure to be one of the highlights of your Western US road trip.
- Monument Valley Scenic Drive: an unpaved road that will lead you to the heart of a mythical landscape of buttes, spires and mesas.
- John Ford's Point: offers one of the best views of the valley.
- Sunset: the flamboyant colours of the setting sun make the scene even more striking.
- Forrest Point: this is the exact spot where Tom Hanks stopped running in the film Forrest Gump.
Location of the most beautiful landscapes
And so we find ourselves looking at the price of plane tickets and dreaming of our next trip to the American West...
In the meantime, I hope that I have taken you on a journey with all these beautiful pictures.
Don't hesite to add your suggestions to this TOP 10 in the comments below!