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Travelling the USA and Canada


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Southwest (1)

Natural Wonders of the Southwest

Our journey through the Southwest of the United States is a journey of superlatives. We will visit nine national parks and two national monuments, cross some mountain passes at almost 4,000 meters, visit the second largest reservoir in the USA and stay at night where the nation’s rich and famous go skiing. No day without a top highlight – just come along…

Our tour starts in Denver, the capital of the state of Colorado. In 2016 it was named the best place to live in the United States. So, a walking tour through the city decorated with unusual works of art is more than worthwhile.

And then the “Wild West” is waiting for us. The road up Mount Evans climbs more than 2,000 meters from its starting point and ends up at 4,307 meters as the highest paved road in North America. We visit the old gold mining town of Georgetown, cross Loveland Pass, reach Leadville, the highest city in the USA, climb Independence Pass and finally spend the night in Aspen, the richest city in the country. Somehow everything is “highest” here.

Via Carbondale and Hotchkiss we reach the first national park, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP with steep walls that drop down to 700 meters. Behind the San Juan Mountains with its old silver mines and the towns of Silverton and Durango, the Mesa Verde NP, also called “green table mountain”, is waiting. A special geographical point is the Four Corners Monument, the only four-states corner in the US where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.

The small town of Bluff in the state of Utah is a real insider tip. Have a cup of coffee at the Navajo Twin Rocks Café – there is hardly a nicer place for a break. Passing those fun rock formations as Mexican Hat and Alhambra Rock, we head to Goosenecks State Park, where the San Juan River forms the counterpart to the German Saar Loop. Next top destination is Monument Valley; the red rocks rise up to 300 meters above the surrounding plateau and remind us of scenes from old western movies with John Wayne. Even the journey to the monument is an experience!

Our next destination – in the meantime we reached Arizona – is another Indian sanctuary, the Navajo National Monument. The Cameron Trading Post further southwest is so striking that everyone stops here. And then, finally, we stand at its edge: the Grand Canyon, by far the most popular national park in the USA (apart from the Great Smoky Mountains in the busy east). Grand Canyon – a huge natural wonder that we will admire again and again for the next two days.

We continue our journey at the two Navajo Bridges spanning the narrow Marble Canyon. Just before we arrive at Page, we take a look at Horseshoe Bend, another river loop, this time of the Colorado River. Glen Canyon Dam finally with its mighty walls dams up Lake Powell, making it the second largest reservoir in the USA.

What follows next is a list of national parks: Zion NP, deep in a valley, with its trusting squirrels; Bryce Canyon NP with thousands of colorful rock pyramids, the so-called hoodoos, and finally Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, largest nature reserve in the heartland of the USA, inhospitable and almost inaccessible. What follows is Capitol Reef NP, a park somehow too boring for us. This is definitely not the case with Canyonlands NP with its gigantic gorges. At the end there is Arches NP; famous Delicate Arch can be found on the frontpage of many travel guides of the Southwest.

Via the important traffic hub of Grand Junction and via Glenwood Springs with the longest hot water spring in the world, we reach the famous ski area around the small town of Vail. We wind our way into Rocky Mountain NP; the Trail Ridge Road between Grand Lake in the west and Estes Park in the east runs over the Continental Divide and has its crest at 3,713 meters. We spend the last night in the university town of Boulder before we return to Denver airport after 3,545 kilometers through the Southwest of the USA.

Route Description

Tag/DayVon/FromNach/ToRoute
01Denver Airport (DEN)Denver000 m / 000 km
02DenverDenver000 m / 000 km
03DenverAspen220 m / 355 km
04AspenMontrose185 m / 300 km
05MontroseCortez195 m / 315 km
06CortezKayenta170 m / 275 km
07KayentaGrand Canyon Village175 m / 280 km
08Grand Canyon VillageGrand Canyon Village000 m / 000 km
09Grand Canyon VillagePage170 m / 275 km
10PageBryce Canyon City255 m / 410 km
11Bryce Canyon CityTorrey120 m / 195 km
12TorreyMoab195 m / 315 km
13MoabGrand Junction120 m / 195 km
14Grand JunctionWinter Park230 m / 370 km
15Winter ParkBoulder120 m / 195 km
16BoulderDenver Airport (DEN)040 m / 065 km
Total2.195 m / 3.545 km

The Journey in Pictures