You could spend a lifetime exploring the national parks in the Southwest and barely scratch the surface. It's easy enough to see the harsh but majestic desert landscapes along the main roads, but a short detour from the highway has many rewards – and a scenic drive down a back road often has many more.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
When planning a Southwest vacation, it's impossible to ignore the country's largest canyon. A mile deep and as many as 18 miles across, this iconic natural wonder was carved into the red rock of northern Arizona over the millennia by the Colorado River. You can visit its South Rim year-round and its North Rim in every season but winter, or you can travel along the river on a trip lasting anywhere from a day to several weeks.