Road Trips

Road-trip recs for an epic Southwestern journey

Words by Wildsam Staff


Nick Kelley/Kintzing


26 Apr 2024

Reading Time

5 Minutes

Ancient heritage, geological grandeur and adventure await.


Scenic Drive: U.S. 163 through the Navajo Nation, part of the Trail of the Ancients.

Natural Wonder: Petrified Forest National Park, a marvel made for the small hours—photographers capture the most saturated hues an hour after sunrise.

Small-Town Fest: World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, since 1888. First week of July.

Local Shop: Cosanti Originals, Paradise Valley. Their handcrafted windbells are art.


Scenic Drive: State Route 78, from Julian to Salton Sea, through Anza-Borrego.

Photo Stop: Roy’s Motel & Café, on Route 66 in Amboy, a neon Googie temple.

Campground: Calico Ghost Town in Yermo, the relics of an 1881 mining outpost.


Scenic Drive: Mount Charleston Scenic Byway, a stunner of canyon climb just outside Vegas.

Day Trip: Gemfield Claim public dig site, Goldfield. A dollar a pound, on the honor system.

Campground: Cottonwood Cove Resort RV Park. Lake Mohave basecamp among the houseboat people.

New Mexico

Scenic Drive: Jemez Mountain Trail Scenic Byway, west of Los Alamos, towards Jemez Springs. The landscape is enchanting: canyons, forests, elk meadows and more.

Natural Wonder: The whooping crane migration, every December at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio.

Breakfast Stop: El Modelo Mexican Foods, Albuquerque. Legendary stuffed sopaipillas.

Day Trip: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, Ojo Caliente. Nine public pools, four distinct mineral waters.

Campground: Bonito Hollow RV Park, Alto. Destination trout stream flowing through camp.


Scenic Drive: State Route 12, through the canyon country between Bryce and Boulder. Whoa.

Day Trip: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Zion deconstructed: Among windblown dunes, visitors ride ORVs, hike among wildflowers and watch while the kiddos roll the sandy slopes.

Lunch: Milt’s Stop and Eat, Moab. What a chili cheeseburger should be.

Local Shop: Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff. Diné art emporium.

Campground: Zion Wright Family Ranch, Virgin. Trail rides, glamping tents, a zillion stars.

West Texas

Scenic Drive: Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, Fort Davis. Highest highway in the state, overlooks the Chihuahuan Desert floor.

Local Shop: Big Bend Saddlery in Alpine, for leatherwork where the wranglers shop.

Small-Town Fest: Terlingua Chili Cookoff, first weekend in November in Terlingua.

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