With its rich Native American and Hispanic culture, jaw-dropping rock formations, and badass outdoor adventures, the American southwest is not to be taken lightly when it comes to camping trips. Here are three weekend camping guides to Moab, Grand Canyon and Santa Fe.
Friday: Pitch your tent, park your rig, or find your cabin at your home-away-from-home, Moab KOA. We know you’re itching to explore but take it easy tonight by playing a game of mini-golf or horseshoes or just enjoying your red rock views over a campsite dinner.
Saturday: Independent travelers can make the trip themselves to nearby Arches National Park, or ask your KOA hosts to arrange for a tour guide to pick you up right at the campground. There, you can hike miles of trails that lead to over 2,000 rock arches, cruise around on a mountain bike, or tour the sights by horse. Experienced adventurers can also take advantage of stellar climbing.
Sunday: Take a laidback rafting trip down the Colorado River or a Jeep tour of Moab. Or hit up Hole N' The Rock, a Canyonlands home and gift shop carved out of a huge rock, which is home to art, collectibles, and an exotic zoo featuring zebras and bison, and camels
Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, US
Friday: Arrive at Mather Campground, on the canyon’s South Rim and within Grand Canyon Village (a trailer village is also available for RV’ers looking for hook-ups). Rest your muscles tonight by catching one of the ranger programs that cover everything from stargazing to history before relaxing over a campfire.
Saturday: Hike the South Rim of Grand Canyon, take a mule ride, or see waterfalls and rock formation up close and personal with a rafting tour. The truly dedicated (read: outdoor overachievers) can aim for all three, or sign up for a Canyon River Adventure where you’ll take a scenic flight overlooking the canyon, tour Antelope Canyon, and float down the Colorado River before returning by bus.
Sunday: Antelope Canyon (and especially upper Antelope Canyon) is a huge tourist attraction, so expect large crowds on your guided tour. Also be warned that the visit is fairly costly, it's an $8 entry fee plus a $25 tour. But with those two factors in mind, Antelope Canyon is absolutely worth it. The slot canyon is gorgeous and unlike anything you've ever witnessed. Be sure and bring a high quality camera to properly capture the bizarre formations.
Friday: Set up camp at Santa Fe KOA where you can spend the evening watching hummingbirds or shooting pool in the game room. Or head to Santa Fe Brewing Company where you can bring your own dinner and taste fresh brews.
Saturday: If you haven’t already noticed, we dedicated the best day of the week to adrenaline-pumping adventures, and in Santa Fe it’s no different. Make your way to Santa Fe Climbing Center where you can find a guide to show you the ropes at Diablo Canyon, the filming locations for 3:10 to Yuma and Cowboys and Aliens and home to some of New Mexico’s best multi-pitch climbing. Then reward yourself with a dip in the Spence Hot Springs, two natural pools that overlook the Santa Fe National Forest.
Sunday: You never know what you’ll find at Santa Fe Plaza, which is why we recommend ending your trip here. You could catch traditional Indian or Spanish markets or tunes at the Santa Fe Bandstand. But either way you’ll have the chance to shop Hispanic and Native American crafts, jewelry, and clothes.