The 5 Best Southwest Hikes: The Prepared Hiker's Guide


From sea to shining sea, America is chock full of trails that can satisfy every kind of hiker, but there's just something about hiking the Southwest that hits differently from anywhere else. So what is it, exactly, about the Southwest that makes it special for hikers?

Maybe it's the canyons or the sunsets, or perhaps it's the simple joy of stable, predictable weather in an environment that provides ample opportunities to get outside most months of the year (aside from oppressively hot summer temps in some areas)!

Whatever brings you to hiking the Southwest, certain parks and trails truly stand out. Here are several that are worth looking into the next time you find yourself seeking a Southwestern hike.

The 5 Best Hikes in the Southwest

Dirt road through the desert near Sedona.
There are too many trails to count, but here are five of the best hikes in the Southwest!

1. Bright Angel Trail - Arizona

No locale in the Southwest strikes the collective imagination quite like the Grand Canyon, and no trail at the Grand Canyon is quite as popular as the Bright Angel Trail. This is not a trail for the light-hearted or half-hearted hiker: It is steep, often difficult, and time-consuming.

With roundtrips ranging from less than an hour to round trips up to 12 hours in length, you need to be serious about hiking to take on the Bright Angel Trail. With this trip in the footsteps of Native American forebears, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views and enduring memories. This is truly one of the best hikes in the Southwest.

2. Dinosaur National Monument - Utah

After learning the area's history, going hiking in Dinosaur National Monument is a fantastic way to more fully appreciate the locale and the learning experience. Most trails are easily accessible from near the visitor center. Trails range from the ΒΌ-mile Plug Hat Trail to the more difficult 8-mile Island Park Trail.

Unlike other national park trails, off-trail hiking is permitted within Dinosaur National Monument. This affords you more opportunities to see sights not normally seen. However, for your own safety you should be a more experienced hiker, and be fully prepared for any eventuality if planning on going off-trail. Also, remember that the same Leave No Trace rules for main trails apply to off-trail hiking.

3. White Sands National Park - New Mexico

If a space alien were dropped onto one of White Sands National Park's five trails (allegedly, they love New Mexico!), they'd be forgiven for thinking they were seeing snow on either side of them as they walked.

Alas, all they'd be seeing are the remnants of the ubiquitous dunes for which White Sands is named. Don't let that be a disappointment, though; there is simply nothing like a trek through one of the unique natural environments on the planet.

4. Sedona Airport Loop Trail - Arizona

Already a draw for the spiritual with its vortices and for photogs thanks to its vibrant red rocks, Sedona, Arizona is also a magnet for hikers. One of the best trails in Sedona is also one of the most accessible. Park on the Sedona Airport Mesa ($3, good for multiple entries/exits on the same day), and venture down a 3.2-mile trail that winds around multiple points before culminating in a photo-worthy end.

A piece of advice: Make it back to the trailhead, and then the airport mesa viewpoint before sunset for the icing on the cake β€” Sedona sunsets here are out of this world. It can get crowded, so get to the viewpoint and find a good spot as early as you can!

5. Coyote Gulch - Utah

One of the longer hikes you may want to trek down, the Coyote Gulch trail β€” located in southern Utah's portion of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area β€” offers an incredible opportunity to see some unusual natural formations in North America.

Most visitors opt for an overnight hike so as not to be rushed, but it can be done in a day with enough planning. Be prepared with proper clothing, and bring a climbing rope if you want to experience Coyote Gulch in all its splendor.

Go on the Best Hikes in the Southwest With Cruise America

Your Southwestern hiking adventure is just over the horizon; all you need is an RV rental to get there. Luckily for you, Cruise America is flush with rental RVs that can get you and your fellow travelers wherever you want to go hiking the Southwest in comfort, style, and safety.

Packed with modern amenities that truly make any rig you rent your home away from home, Cruise America rental RVs are the way to go anywhere, everywhere, and all places in between.

Your dream RV rental is waiting for you. To experience the best hikes in the Southwest, get in touch with Cruise America today.