The Best Southwest National Parks Tours & Vacations

Southwest National Parks Tours and Vacations are one of the most exciting ways to experience the natural beauty of America’s Southwest region. 

The southwest is home to some of the best national parks in the country, and thousands of tourists from around the world come every year to experience these amazing places firsthand. Whether you want to see Mesa Verde National Park’s ancient ruins or spend hours hiking the trails at Canyonlands National Park, you’ll have no shortage of things to do in this incredible part of the country. 

National parks are some of the most beautiful, exciting and incredible places in the world. From east to west and north to south, there are more than 400 national parks in the United States alone.

 If you’re planning a trip to some of the southwest’s most popular national parks, though, this guide on the best southwest national parks tours and vacations will be just what you need to help you plan your trip effectively and thoroughly, including where to stay and what to do when you get there.

1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, is one of America’s most famous parks. With its unique landscapes, stunning vistas, natural splendors, and sites important to American history it’s no wonder why millions of visitors come each year to experience what makes it so special. Take a tour on a mule (or hike yourself), see waterfalls that spill over into lime-green pools (like Havasupai) or marvel at ancient cliff dwellings like you’ve only seen in pictures (at South Rim). Whether you are going for just an afternoon or week-long vacation, Grand Canyon National Park is sure to satisfy your every need.

Grand Canyon Tours
Grand Canyon Vacations

Havasupai, in particular, has some of the most stunning waterfalls in Arizona; it’s where water is at its most blue. There are several Havasupai
hiking trails that will lead you to these waterfalls, but if you’re
looking for a more extended journey with a scenic reward, try one of
these 5 hikes around Grand Canyon National Park. South Rim: If you
want to explore—or at least see—the famed Grand Canyon without
venturing very far off Las Vegas Boulevard, head to Grand Canyon
South Rim
. The rims offer up some spectacular views as well as
walkways along several overlooks.

2. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, a national park, and a state park of Utah. The most visited tourist attraction in Utah, Zion National Park offers visitors two different basic tours: a ranger-led walking tour that takes visitors up to Canyon Overlook on an easy 1.5-mile (2.4 km) walk that can be done by anyone; and river rafting down the Virgin River in motorized rafts or unpowered rubber rafts depending on availability during high season from May through September—this is generally regarded as one of if not THE best national parks for hiking trails in America.
Southwest National Parks
Southwest National Parks
To make your vacation even more affordable, there are often deals offered on packages that include tickets to both attractions. If you’re interested in spending time at other great destinations nearby Zion National Park, consider booking accommodations at Lake Powell which is less than 2 hours away. In addition to world-class hiking trails and spectacular views of natural rock formations like Angels Landing and Kolob Arch, another fun activity is visiting Rainbow Bridge National Monument which is located just 15 miles north of Lake Powell.

3. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde is one of America’s greatest archaeological treasures. This park preserves more than 5,000 ancient Puebloan dwellings, which are considered to be among North America’s most significant cultural resources. Mesa Verde has a couple of hiking trails that pass through breathtaking scenery: Spruce Tree House Loop Trail—0.9 miles round trip—and Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum Trail—1 mile round trip. The trail system can be hiked in reverse order, but you’ll want to stop by both spots if possible. For example, Chapin Mesa overlooks Cliff Palace (another stellar sight) and guides provide additional insight into each dwelling as well as cultural context for those unfamiliar with Native American history.
Southwest National Parks Tours
Southwest National Parks Tours
Also make sure to stop at Balcony House—one of Colorado’s largest cliff dwellings—on your way back down. It was constructed around 1285 AD and it is awe-inspiring even today. Don’t forget your camera! When you’re done touring mesas, make sure to check out some local artisans selling jewelry, pottery, and paintings along Main Street. Finally head over to Three Rivers Market & Deli for lunch or dinner before heading back home or onward toward another national park on your itinerary!

4. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park is known for its starkly beautiful desert landscape, diverse wildlife, but perhaps most importantly its national parks tours. The hottest place on Earth, Death Valley has more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Despite extreme temperatures throughout much of summer, hiking trails offer opportunities to explore a giant sand dune sea, take in an ancient volcanic landscape from Telescope Peak Trail or explore rugged wilderness in Emigrant Canyon Wilderness—all without leaving park boundaries.
Southwest National Parks Tours
Southwest National Parks Tours
A number of lodging options exist within park boundaries; camping is available for those who want to spend longer there. Hiking with children? Families will enjoy nature walks at Furnace Creek Ranch, which offers shorter routes that are easy enough for even small children. And no visit to Death Valley would be complete without spending time at Scotty’s Castle, one of California’s many national parks tours . During your visit you can tour stately rooms that feature traditional adobe architecture.

5.Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park offers something for everyone, from world-class hiking trails to wildlife spotting. If you’re looking for a place to relax, there are several scenic drive options that let you view Old Faithful as well as geysers, hot springs, waterfalls and more. The park is famous for its variety of animals including bison (at least 3,500 of them), elk, moose and even bear. It’s also home to some serious hiking opportunities including pretty much every type of trail you can imagine: paved trails along lakeshores or wilderness hikes through alpine meadows or forests.
Southwest National Parks Vacation
Southwest National Parks Vacation
You’ll find lots of information about your favorite national parks here. You’ll learn about what makes each park unique and what types of tours or vacations might be best suited for your family or group. You’ll also find information on where to stay, what activities to do and where to eat! Best Time To Go For The Best Experience: Many people think springtime is ideal in Wyoming because it’s when all sorts of wildflowers are in bloom but really any time of year is great because you’ll get to see different things depending on which part of the state you’re visiting. Summertime is when most people visit because kids are out of school but it’s not necessarily any less crowded than spring since many families travel during summer vacation season!

6. Arches National Park, UTAH

Because Arches National Park is located just outside of Moab, UT, it makes for a quick day trip from many national parks. But no matter how much time you spend in Moab—whether you’re camping nearby or living there full-time—Arches will always be a great choice for your first visit to southern Utah. The park is known for its stunning red rock formations (more than 2,000 of them), but visitors can also hike trails and explore arches. Allow several hours or an entire day to see all that Arches has to offer.
Southwest National Parks Vacation
Southwest National Parks Vacation
Did you know that Arches National Park is one of America’s best photography destinations? It might be your first time in Utah, but it’s also a favorite among national park lovers. Arches is known for its sandy desert landscape and massive sandstone arches. You can capture these great sights from many different spots throughout the park, as long as you have a wide-angle lens on your camera. If you don’t have that kind of lens or don’t know how to use it, bring someone along who does! There are some amazing guides who work at Arches National Park; they can help point out some hidden gems before they’re swallowed up by surrounding shrubbery.

7. Canyonlands National Park, UTAH

Canyonlands is one of our favorite parks in Utah. There are so many amazing hikes, views, and rock formations. You can really get lost in your own little world hiking through Canyonlands for days! One of our favorite destinations at Canyonlands is Mesa Arch. It’s a short drive from some of their most popular trails, like Island in The Sky (accessible by tour only), but we love that it feels remote while still being close to everything. Mesa Arch sits on top of a mesa that drops off steeply on all sides making it a unique arch-viewing experience: you’re free to explore under, over, and around the arch itself with incredible views of Mt. in every direction.
Southwest National Parks Tour
We recommend spending a full day here to hike up Mesa Arch Trail and explore nearby sites like Grand View Point and Upheaval Dome before ending with sunset at Grand View Point. We also recommend staying in nearby Moab or Salt Lake City if you have time because there’s just too much fun stuff to do in Canyonlands to fit into one trip!

8. Capitol Reef National Park, UTAH

Capitol Reef is a popular vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is known for its majestic cliffs, forests of tall pine trees, canyons, plateaus, desert lands and streams—all packed into only 62 square miles. Hiking trails crisscross through red-rock canyonlands, providing numerous opportunities to get an up-close look at interesting formations like checkerboard fins or colorful spires. Popular day hikes include Turret Arch and Hickman Bridge.
National Parks Tour
National Parks Tour
For campers willing to spend a night in one of Utah’s most scenic areas, Capitol Reef offers eight developed campgrounds that are open year-round. Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument: Grand Staircase–Escalante was created as a national monument by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and it became part of Bears Ears National Monument after President Barack Obama signed it into law on December 28, 2016. This vast area includes three main regions: Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante Canyons and Grand Gulch Primitive Area.

9. Bryce Canyon National Park, UTAH

The star attraction of Bryce Canyon National Park is one of nature’s most stunning works of art: its namesake Bryce Canyon, where pink-hued limestone formations extend down into a verdant valley. The best time to visit is in fall, when temperatures are mild and colorful leaves line roads throughout Utah. As you drive in, you’ll notice that park roads wind through forests filled with lush green vegetation. From there, you can hike along steep trails that lead to breathtaking overlooks or drive to lookouts that offer panoramic views of hoodoos (rock formations) stretching over 1,000 feet high.
National Parks Tour
National Parks Tour
Take a ride on horseback across wide-open meadows or take part in ranger-led activities geared towards children. To get to Bryce Canyon National Park from Las Vegas, head north for an hour on Interstate 15. It’s about an hour south of Salt Lake City and about four hours northeast of Phoenix. During your stay, be sure to check out Kodachrome Basin State Park , which offers a great view of both Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks. In addition to being surrounded by three other major national parks (Zion, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Capitol Reef), Utah has plenty more hiking opportunities within its borders than just those at Bryce Canyon.

10. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NEW MEXICO

The fifth most-visited National Park, Carlsbad Caverns features more than 100 caves. Don’t miss bats during your visit—they emerge in enormous numbers at dusk. During your stay, don’t miss a chance to explore one of the many hiking trails or catch a ranger-led tour. If you can only choose one—go for Cavern Tour! Carlsbad Caverns is located in southeastern New Mexico and is part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
National Parks Tour
National Parks Tour
This park preserves two limestone caverns: Big Cave (or Upper Cave) with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstone; and Lechuguilla Cave (or Lower Cave), which has delicate soda straw formations that are thousands of years old. Both caves were formed by underground rivers. After forming deep within Earth’s crust over hundreds of thousands of years, these waterways found their way to the surface through sinkholes near Carlsbad Village. By way of Lake Lucero on federal land near Ruidoso Downs Road east of U.S.

11. Big Bend National Park, TEXAS

Like many National Parks, Big Bend is big. Very big. That’s part of what makes it so magical: with more than 800,000 acres to explore, you’ll never be short on places to go and things to do in Big Bend National Park. You can hike through grasslands, scrubland, and desert conditions, you can explore ancient cliffs or deep caves; there are countless trails here that cross different terrains — think pine forest on one side of a ridge versus desert just a stone’s throw away — all connected by wide-open spaces that feel endless at times. You might also discover at least one secluded oasis hidden among some trees.
National Parks Tour
National Parks Tour
The best time to visit Big Bend National Park? Fall (September–November) for lower temperatures and less crowds, but spring (March–May) has its own beauty. Come during spring for wildflowers (April–May), including Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets, yellow daisies and red sand verbena, which add vibrant color across open plains where temperatures have warmed enough for plants to bloom. In winter (December–February), expect milder weather than other seasons—but don’t plan your trip around visiting during a specific season if you’re hoping for ideal hiking conditions since anything can happen in these mountains!

12. White Sands National Park, NEW MEXICO

While it doesn’t have any notable hikes, White Sands National Park is worth a visit for its vast white-sand dunes. The park was originally created to protect these dunes after they were used to make gypsum wallboard in nearby cities. Take in stunning views of the world’s largest gypsum dune field from various overlooks along Highway 70 or by walking on some of the many miles of trails winding through other sections of terrain.
White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park
At more than 300 square miles (780 sq km), White Sands is one of America’s biggest national parks. It’s also surprisingly diverse considering its location in New Mexico just north of El Paso; besides hosting huge expanses of pure white sand dunes, it also contains numerous cacti and rock formations such as rare hoodoos made up mostly of crumbly minerals called calcite crystals. These hoodoos are unique to New Mexico and can be seen throughout both northern and southern parts of the state; among their many spectacular features are spires that jut vertically into clear blue skies all year round due to weathering from winds blown at up to 200mph (320kmh).

13. Saguaro National Park, ARIZONA

In Arizona, Saguaro National Park is a real wonder. It’s home to towering cacti up to 40 feet tall, but much of it is also covered by desert shrubbery. The park is technically only about 3 hours from Tucson, but that does not include driving time into town (around 2.5 hours) and then stopping for dinner on your way back (an hour), which can add some time in either direction. Be sure to get up early so you have time to explore before heading out—or find a hotel where you can stay over night if need be!
There are not many places like Saguaro National Park, so it’s worth making a day or two of it! In addition to hiking trails and camping, there are other things to do at Saguaro. During the summer months, rangers host evening talks around campfires about what wildlife you might see during your visit. In fall and winter months, there are opportunities for birding along Cactus Forest Drive (which has fewer people on it). Night sky programs during clear weather give visitors an opportunity to learn more about constellations visible from certain parts of park. During meteor showers in August and September rangers will host stargazing events as well; plan ahead so you don’t miss them!