It’s easy for regular travelers to find themselves in a rut. In time, the noise and fast pace of a city getaway can fail to relax, the beach can become boring, and even the mountains can get tiring. If you’re starting to feel uninspired by your usual travel routine, it might be time to shake things up with a desert getaway in America’s southwest. These are just some of the incredible destinations promising clear night skies, otherworldly landscapes, and unique flora and fauna.
Virginia City, Nevada: Historic Mining Town
Visiting Virginia City feels like stepping back in time, in the best possible way. This once prosperous mining town seems frozen in its 1859 heyday. Its classic saloons, historic Piper’s Opera House, and heritage homes have helped it earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Where else can you still ride a stagecoach or pan for gold? Admire the desert landscape as you ride on one of Virginia & Truckee Railroad’s steam or diesel locomotives to Gold Hill or Carson City.
Marfa, Texas: Unlikely Arts Hub
Marfa doesn’t have the arts heritage of New York City or Washington, D.C., but it has asserted itself as an arts center to be reckoned with ever since minimalist sculptor Donald Judd arrived in the 1970s. The Chihuahuan Desert landscape became his muse and he set about transforming it with large empty concrete box installations. Scandinavian artists Elmgreen & Dragset followed his lead, creating an enormous fake Prada boutique on the desert land at the edge of town. Marfa’s rugged landscape has also inspired filmmakers through the ages. “Giant” and “No Country for Old Men” were both shot here.
Despite its cultural appeal, Marfa remains a small town of just 2,000 people. It has a handful of hotels, but for a more memorable experience, book a tepee or vintage trailer.
Arches National Park, Utah: Appealing Wilderness
If you really want to be one with the desert, you won’t want modern conveniences like hotels and restaurants. You’ll want to pitch a tent and soak up the serenity in Arches National Park in Moab. This desert area in eastern Utah is known for its fiery red canyons and fascinating rock formations. It’s technically just 4 miles north of Moab, but with no direct road to its nearest neighbor, it’ll actually take nearly three hours to travel from your campsite to restaurants and wineries. For many, that’s a big part of the appeal.
Tucson, Arizona: Big City Convenience in the Desert
If the thought of a desert getaway appeals, but you enjoy the finer things in life, Tucson may be the perfect solution. Known as the Gateway to the Sonoran Desert, Tucson has all the facilities you’d expect in any big city here including plenty of hotels, world-class restaurants, day spas, and golf courses. However, its pace is a lot more laid back than the urban jungle. Saguaro National Park has sections 10 miles east and west of the city. This desert environment is the natural habitat of the famous saguaro cactus, the largest cactus in the United States, which grows to 40 feet.
Forget about the same old travel routine and shake things up with a vacation to one of the premium desert destinations in the American Southwest.