Is This Hidden Travel Gem the Most Beautiful Place in America?

When you think of North America's most iconic travel destinations, what first comes to mind? Florida's white-sand beaches? Yellowstone National Park? Highway 1 and California's Golden Coast? Hawaii? Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard? One of the great American metropolises--New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? Perhaps, a charming historical destination such as Quebec or New Orleans? 

If you are like most people, the Southwest National Parks are probably not the first destination that comes to mind. For whatever reason, the Southwest National Parks are often lost in the conversation of premier, American travel destinations. But to the people that have seen the splendor of the red-rock mountains, winding canyons, and rugged terrain of the Ole' Wild West, the National Parks of the Southwest are simply unforgettable. Here are 10 photos that illustrate why:

1. The Delicate Arch: Arches National Park

Located in Arches National Park, the natural, freestanding arch stands 65 feet tall. The Delicate Arch is featured on the Utah license plate. In commemoration of Utah's 100 year anniversary of being admitted to the Union, the State of Utah released a centennial stamp featuring the Delicate Arch. During the relay of Olympic Torch for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Olympic Torch was passed through the Delicate Arch. 

Court of the Patriarchs Zion Nat'l Park.jpg

2. Court of the Patriarch: Zion National Park

The Court of Patriarchs is a trio of sandstone cliffs located in Zion National Park. The three dramatic cliffs are named after three biblical characters: Abraham, Issaac, and Jacob.  

3. Horseshoe Bend

This wonderfully unique geographical formation was shaped by the sharped bend of the Colorado River. Horseshoe Bend is located just five miles downstream from Lake Powell in Arizona. It is a must-see stopover as you make your way through the National Parks of the Southwest. 

4. Bryce Canyon

Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon is home to some of the most magnificent scenery America has to offer. Epitomizing the the glowing red-rock that is typical of the Southwest National Parks, Bryce Canyon National Park is home to some of America's most unique geological features including Thor's Hammer, Wall Street, and Aquarius Plateau. 

5.Wall Street Bryce Canyon

Fun fact: Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon; rather, it is a collection of geological features called Hoodoos. Hoodoos are formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of sedimentary rock. Wall Street offers an incredible collection of Hoodoos. 

6. Double Arch: Arches National Park 

The Double Arch was used in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When you visit Arches National Park you are allowed to see the Double Arch up close and personal. Walking under the Arches will give you a new appreciation for massive size of these mighty geological structures.

7. Angels Landing: Zion National Park

Known earlier as the Temple of Aeolus, Angels Landing is a giant rock formation that sits in the middle of Zion National Park. In 1926 a trail was carved up the mountain. The hikers who can make it to the top of Angels Landing get to enjoy one of the best views Zion National Park has to offer. 

Image Courtesy of Bruce Friedman:

Image Courtesy of Bruce Friedman:

8. The Deck of the North rim Lodge

Does this hotel own the world's best view? I think the North Rim Lodge certainly has a case to be made. After a day of sight-seeing, does it get any better than grabbing a cocktail, relaxing on the deck of the North Rim Lodge, and feasting your eyes on the spectacular view of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?

9. South Window: Arches National Park

It's called South Window, but wouldn't Stairway to Heaven be a more fitting name for this magnificent scene? Take in the dry, cool air of the Southwest as you walk up the staircase and through the South Window. 

10. Mesa Arch: Canyonlands National Park 

Want to see a picture-perfect sunrise? Then visit the Mesa Arch. The Arch is positioned perfectly to catch the sun between its borders. Be precise with your timing so that you, your friends, and your camera can catch the sunrise beaming on the beautiful red-rock canyons of Arches National Park. 

Do you enjoy broadening your horizons?

Learn how you can see the beauty of the National Parks of the Southwest on an all-inclusive, exclusive trip with America's favorite travel club - American Classic Tours.