Southwest Travel & Adventure Guide

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The Southwest is an expansive region in the far west corner of the country. It is a beautiful and historic region of the country that is famous for its history, food, live entertainment and natural wonders.

If you are planning a vacation or trip to the Southwest, then check out this guide to Southeast travel:

Southwest States:

The Southwest consists of eight states:

New Mexico

Southwest Geography:

The Southwest is bordered by the Southeastern states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the East, by the Northwestern states of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas to the North, by the Pacific Ocean to the West and by Mexico to the South.

Major geographical features of the Southwest include: the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Colorado River and the Gulf of Mexico.

The region is home to many beaches, mountain ranges, open plains and expansive deserts.

Southwest Weather & Climate:

The climate of the Southwest is a semi-arid climate in the western area with a more humid climate to the east. Some of the far western areas of the region, like California and Nevada, have an alpine or desert climate.

The areas furthest North, which also have higher elevations, such as Colorado and Utah, tend have the coolest temperatures of the region and the areas further South, like California and Texas, tend to have warmest temperatures of the region.

Southwest Travel & Adventure Guide

The average temperature in the Southwest in the winter is between 25 degrees F ( – 3 degrees C) and 47 degrees F (8 degrees C), depending on what area of the region you are in.

The average temperature in the Southwest in the spring is between 43 degrees F (6 degrees C) and 65 degrees F (18 degrees F).

The average temperature in the Southwest in the summer is between 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) and 81 degrees F (27 degrees C)

The average temperature in the Southwest in the fall is between 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) and 65 degrees F (18 degrees C).

Southwest Sightseeing:

Popular tourist attractions in the Southwest:

Grand Canyon in Arizona
Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona
Montezuma Castle near Camp Verda, Arizona
Barrington Crater in Winslow, Arizona
Oatman Ghost Town in Oatman, Arizona
Tombstone, Arizona

Redwood National Park in California
Disneyland in Anaheim, California
La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California
Yosemite National Park in California
Monteray Bay Aquarium in Monteray, California
Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California
Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
Glenwood Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Argo Gold Mine and Mill in Idaho Springs, Colorado
Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden, Colorado
Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Morrison, Colorado
Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado

Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada
Fly Geyser in Gerlach, Nevada
Hoover Dam in Nevada
Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada
The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

New Mexico:
New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico
International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico
Area 51 Museum in Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell Alien Attraction Autopsy in Roswell, New Mexico
Four Corners Monument in Shiprock, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument in Tularosa, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma
Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve in Bartsville, Oklahoma
Turner Falls Park in Davis, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Bryce Canyon National Park in Garfield County, Utah
Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah
Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen, Utah
Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah
Arches National Park in Moab, Utah
Great Salt Lake in Utah

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas
USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas
The Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Zoo in San Antonio, Texas
Dallas World Aquarium in Dallas, Texas
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas

Popular Foods in the Southwest:

The Southwest is home to some truly unique food that you can’t find anywhere else in the country. No trip to the Southwest would be complete without trying the local cuisine:

Arizona Foods:
Sonoran hot dogs
Ranch fries
Cowboy steak
Mesquite flour bread
Carne seca plate
Cheese crisp
Red and/or white Menudo (tripe and hominy soup)
Pico de Gallo fruit cup
Mangoyada raspada (Mexican-style snow cones)
Tostiverduras (street snack made of tortilla chips mixed with vegetables, lime, Chomoy, chili powder and hot sauce)
Paletas (Mexican ice pops)
Green corn tamales
Red chile tamales with green olives
Indian fry bread tacos (taco made from fry bread, aka fried dough, instead of a tortilla)
Elotes (grilled corn on the cob with lime, mayo, chile powder, Cotija cheese and hot sauce)
Beef patty tacos

California Foods:
In-N-Out burger (local fast food chain)
Korean BBQ
Xiaolongbao (Chinese steamed bun)
Tri-Tip (aka Santa Maria steak)
French dip sandwich (roast beef in a french roll)
Carne asada burrito
Grilled corn on the cob
Chicken and waffles
Hangtown fry (egg scramble with oysters, bacon and onions once popular with Gold Rush miners)
Fish tacos
Crispy tacos
Fried pizza
Uni (urchin)
Dungeness crab
Santa Barbara spot prawns
Garlic ice cream
Lemonade ice pop
Cruffin (Mash-up between a croissant and muffin)

Colorado Foods:
Rocky Mountain oysters (fried bull or bison testicles)
Sugar steak
Cheese enchiladas
Colorado lamb
Olathe sweet corn
Rockie dogs (hot dogs)
Cinnamon rolls
Colorado craft beer

Nevada foods:
Bone-in rib eye steak
Lamb shank
Fry bread Indian taco (taco made from fry bread, aka fried dough, instead of a tortilla)
The Western sundae (frozen cream and eggs drizzled with hot fudge, pecans, caramel and a cherry)

New Mexico Foods:
Blue corn pancakes
Green chile cheeseburger
Posole (hominy chile stew)
Chile Rellenos (fried cheese-stuffed chile pepper)
Carne adovada (pork in red chile sauce)
Blue corn tortillas
Red chile pork tamales
Red cheese enchiladas
Flame roasted green chiles
Calabacitas (zucchini, corn and green chiles)
Sopaipillas (deep fried dough drizzled with honey)
Biscochitos (the state cookie of New Mexico – made with cinnamon, sugar and anise)
Green chile apple pie

Oklahoma Foods:
Fried onion burger
Theta burger (burger with pickles, mayonnaise and hickory sauce)
Pig sandwich (pit-roasted pork drenched in stock and sour pickle relish, served on a toasted bun)
Chicken fried steak
Lamb and calf fries (batter-fried testicle slices made from lamb or calfs)
Indian taco
Fried pies
Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich made from a French baguette with cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrots, daikon and your choice of protein. First brought to Oklahoma City by Vietnamese refugees)
Pho (Vietnamese soup of beef broth and rice noodles)
Locally brewed root beer
Cherry limeade

Utah Foods:
Crown burgers (local fast-food chain that serves charbroiled quarter-pound burgers topped with Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and cured pastrami)
Navajo tacos (taco made from fry bread, aka fried dough, instead of a tortilla)
Funeral potatoes (deep fried balls of Idaho potatoes, cheddar cheese, jalapeno, bacon and scallions in a cornflake crust)
Thick milkshakes
Fries with fry sauce (sauce made from ketchup, lemon juice, eggs and some secret ingredients)
Bear Lake raspberry shakes
Potato tots
Utah corn
Wild game chili
Morgan Valley lamb
Local honey

Texas Foods:
Chicken Fried steak
Whataburger (local fast food chain serving burgers)
BBQ ribs
Gulf oysters
Breakfast tacos (tacos made with egg, tortilla strips, jalapenos, tomatoes and melted cheese)
Pecan pie
Michelado beer
Top Chico (fizzy mineral water)

Best Places to Shop in the Southwest:

Los Angeles, California: Many boutiques and high end stores

Aspen, Colorado: Many boutiques and high end stores

Las Vegas, Nevada: Many high end stores, strip malls and boutique stores

Houston, Texas: Houston has more than 16,000 retailers as well as the largest mall in Texas, the Houston Galleria

Southwest Hotels:

The following are some popular hotels in the Southwest:

Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona
The Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix, Arizona
Casa Del Mar in Los Angeles, California
Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California
Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California
The Gant in Aspen, Colorado
Manor Vail Lodge in Vail, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado
Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
The Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada
Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ambassador Hotel Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Stein Erickson Lodge in Park City, Utah
Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Utah
Gouldings Lodge in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah
The St. Anthony in San Antonio, Texas
Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas
Hotel Granduca in Houston, Texas

Southwest Airports:

The following is a list of major airports in the Southwest:

Flagstaff (FLG)
Phoenix, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Tucson International Airport (TUS)
Yuma International Airport (YUM)

Burbank (BUR)
Fresno (FAT)
Long Beach (LGB)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Oakland (OAK)
Ontario (ONT)
Palm Springs (PSP)
Sacramento (SMF)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Jose (SJC)
Santa Ana (SNA)

Aspen (ASE)
Colorado Springs (COS)
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Grand Junction (GJT)
Pueblo (PUB)

Las Vegas, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)
Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)

New Mexico:
Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ)
Alamogordo (ALM)

Oklahoma City (OKC)
Tulsa (TUL)

Salt Lake City (SLC)

Amarillo (AMA)
Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
Corpus Christi (CRP)
Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
El Paso (ELP)
Houston, William B Hobby Airport (HOU)
Houston, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Lubbock (LBB)
Midland (MAF)
San Antonio International Airport (SAT)

Southwest Transportation:

The following is a list of bus and train companies in the Southwest:

Train Lines:
Amtrak: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
Valley Metro Rail: Arizona
Grand Canyon Railway: Arizona
Verde Canyon Railroad: Arizona
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad: New Mexico
New Mexico Railrunner Express: New Mexico
Virginia and Truckee Railroad: Nevada
Heber Valley Railroad: Utah

Bus Lines:
Trailways Lines: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
Greyhound Lines: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah

For more American travel guides, check out the homepage at

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“Top Hotels in the Southwest and West: Reader’s Choice Awards 2018.” Conde Nast Traveler,
“Famous Hotels in Phoenix Arizona.” USA Today,
Fordham, Krisanne. “20 of America’s most beautiful hotels.” CNN Travel, 18 April. 2018,
“West Train Routes.” Amtrak,
Lieberman, Melanie. “The Best Cities in the United States for Shopping.” Travel and Leisure, 6 March. 2017,
Renzulli, Melanie. “Best Shopping in the USA.” Trip Savvy, 3 March. 2015,
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“What to Devour in the Beehive State: Utah’s Most Iconic Dishes.” Food Network,
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