Vibrant orange, rust, and pinks paint the national parks in the Southwest. These colors pop when the light glints off deep river-carved canyons and smooth sandstone walls. The land also seems to defy gravity with otherworldly spires stretching upwards and arches that seem like they should just crumble into dust, yet they persist against the elements.
Home to the mightiest and most iconic cacti on the planet, Saguaro National Park is a veritable wonderland of whimsical desert flora and fauna. Sandwiching Tucson, Arizona, on its east and west sides, the park’s namesake cactus is the center of life in this part of the Sonoran desert, acting not only as a source of food and water, but as towering apartment towers for birds. And of course, majestic eye candy for hikers in the Rincon and Tucson Mountains.
Getting off the roads in national parks gives visitors more intimate experiences, and what better way to get away from cars than lacing up the hiking shoes to saunter on trails? These shorter trails showcase some of the unique features of parks in the Rocky Mountains.
The Intermountain Region is home to a staggering 20 national parks. These lands, once belonging to indigenous people, all yield a different experience. From the Canadian border to the Mexican border, these parks invite exploration.
Although it was already New Mexico’s most visited national park unit, White Sands got an exciting upgrade at the tail end of 2019, as it went from national monument to national park, ensuring the enduring popularity of this one-of-a-kind landscape, home to the largest gypsum sand dune field on Earth. Just how large are we talking? The park protects a sprawling portion of a 275-square-mile dune field in the Tularosa Basin, which is so vast and vibrant that it can be seen from space.