The American Southwest has history, super-neat areas to visit, unique plants and animals - and more!
There's no disappointment in planning a trip to one of the states in this area. We have traveled throughout the southwestern areas of the U.S. There's still so much we want to do and see there. But our idea is to help you get the best out of it, also - from our experiences and knowledge.
Of course, we live in Arizona - so we definitely know a lot about that area. We have also lived in Southern California - San Diego area - for 10 years. We can provide some great tips about things to do in that area as well. We regularly go back there to visit, and know you would love visiting too!
What if you live in the American Southwest? We have some great ideas for stay-cations! That's a relatively new term, since some people have become more wary of long distance travel. Can you think of people who've lived in an area all their life - and who have never seen the famous local sights!
I know here in Tucson, where we live - the mountains just north of town are called the Santa Catalina range. The top mountain is Mount Lemmon. I know native Tucsonans who have never even been there. Can you think of people where you live like that?
Keep in mind when visiting American Southwest states, consider the climate. Because of a wide variation in elevation, the temperature expectations will vary widely. The states along the Southern border of the U.S. are in a zone with generally warmer, milder winters. Some areas describe themselves as having a "Mediterranean climate." That is typically areas along the coast in California.
Southern Nevada - for instance - the area around Las Vegas, does get mild winters. But northern Nevada winters are cold. However, the precipitation in these states tends to be somewhat lacking, to quite dry. Many spots are desert. Still there are areas that are quite humid - such as the gulf coast of Texas.
Arizona has quite a variation in its weather patterns.
The best thing to do is specifically check on the weather conditions in the location. Check the typical climate variations, and the time of year for your trip. Check the elevation, and how it may affect your plans - per its weather effects.
So what states are we talking about here? For the American Southwest, we'll be investigating the following areas. Of course, Arizona. Then also California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada...
Arizona's nickname is the Grand Canyon state. Sometimes it's referred to as the "Copper State" - as there has been much copper mining there. It's a state, we believe, that really typifies what people think of - when they think about the American Southwest!
People don't always think about California as part of the American Southwest. They have a different image of it - but we plan to show you the ways it fits!
California does have the beaches, and fabulous coastal scenery. Inland it has desert areas with mountain islands of pine and pinon forests. The Eastern part of the state has the wonderful mountain range: Sierra Nevada.
Two types of giant trees that grow in California...
The sequoias are in specific areas of the Sierra Nevada. 68 groves support them. They're the largest trees in that they are not as tall as coastal redwoods, but their trunks are much thicker. So they actually take up much more room in space!
The coastal redwoods are sequoias growing within particular environments north of mid-state. They rely on fog from the ocean. So are not found more than 50 miles inland. Also fairly fast-growing, they are the tallest trees on earth! Their roots are shallow, but spread out widely to help anchor the tree. Their lower needles are thicker and wider to catch sunlight filtering through. The top needles are thin to avoid moisture evaporation.
Driving on the freeways in New Mexico will never show you its wondrous scenic areas.
Some infamous occurrences here: development of and first test of the atomic bomb; possible visitors from out space (?!); Billy the Kid...
The flow of the Rio Grande courses through the entire state, north to south. It provides some great boating, birding and fishing areas.
The Lone Star State! Texas has it all - they like to say, "it's a whole other country!" If you've traveled through it, you get that sense! So - don't mess with Texas...
From cowboys, ranches, farms, desert, beaches, fabulous lakes, forests, oil wells and modern cities. Texas is a state unto itself. Its nickname is the Lone Star State.
Other than Alaska, it's the largest state. Texans like to kinda brag about that - everything is bigger in Texas! The first time we traveled there, crossing Texas - we couldn't believe how long it took to get from one end to the other. We came in at Texarkana, and were heading out through El Paso. So from one corner to the other. We didn't even get it done in 1 day - it took 2 days!
Everyone tends to think of Vegas when thinking of Nevada. But how about Laughlin? A lot of people from Arizona and from California go there instead. A little quieter, more laid back, along the Colorado River - which is nice.
And there's much more to the state. There are some quirks about Nevada - we all know about the gambling, which is legal there. Much of its northern area is a part of the Great Basin, while the southern part is the Mojave Desert. But along the Northwestern edge the Sierra Nevada mountains touch it - Lake Tahoe right on it's corner.
Its nickname is the Silver State. There's a few others in use: Battle Born State, Sage Hen State, and Sagebrush State (probably most widely abundant plant).
A combination of beautiful mountains - the Wasatch, red rock canyon-lands, and desert, make Utah a fantastic place in which to spend time! Nicknamed the Beehive State, relating to industriousness and hard work.
Known in particular for Salt Lake City, as the center of the Mormon religion with its temple and choir there. We visited the City - and did go to see the choir. They are definitely impressive to hear, if you enjoy music. We're open-minded in our music tastes for the most part!
The Great Salt Lake is just West of the city. It's the largest salt lake in the Western hemisphere. It's very shallow, causing evaporative conditions - so its size varies accordingly. So does its salinity, from 2 to 7 times more salty than ocean water! Depending on rain-fall, humidity levels, etc. - it has ranged from about 950 to 3300 square miles of surface area.
It's a great birding area! Not many fish are supported in the salty waters of the Great Salt Lake - but it has shrimp.
Half the state is part of the Great Plains - and half has the magnificent Great Rocky Mountains. The mountains are known for 14 peaks over 14,000 ft. high - called the "Fourteeners" by those who like to conquer them!
Colorado encompasses the American Southwest type of diversity: semi-arid deserts, high plains, alpine mountains down to lower foothills, wonderful Wildlife Refuges.