WHEN A LIFELONG EAST COASTER like myself goes out to the American Southwest, we find ourselves thinking, “Is this even America?” The land in the Southwest is so utterly different and strange to the East Coast of small hills, cities, and humid summers that it can feel like an entirely separate country at times.
It’s also probably one of the most consistently beautiful places in the country. Over a third of the nation’s national parks are in the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California, and some of the most unique cities in the country are west of the Rockies as well.
While the stereotype of the area is that it’s all barren desert — which isn’t entirely inaccurate — there’s a lot more variation and personality in the Southwest than the backdrops of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons would suggest. Next time you decide to hop in your car for a trip around the country, here’s why you should hang out in the Southwest.