Vacation Ideas in the Southwest

Vacation Ideas in the Southwest
The Southwestern United States is sunny most of the time. Its architecture is distinctive, and its history encompasses Native American, Hispanic, Spanish explorers and settlers' wagon trains. There are mountains, canyons, dry rivers, torrents, farmland, odd plant life, cities and desert. It is an ideal destination for a vacation.

Just Roughin' It In Arizona and Utah

A guided backpacking trip with tour company Just Roughin' It in a Southwestern canyon comfortably fills a week. Arrive a day in advance and stay a day afterward for sight-seeing, souvenir shopping and relaxation.

Most Just Roughin' It clients are between 40 and 60 years of age and have never backpacked before. The company provides lightweight but comfortable tents, packs and sleeping gear, usually weighing thirty pounds or less. Guides set up camp, cook and clean up. The 2009 cost is about $250 per person per day.

Just Roughin' It backpacking trips depart regularly for the Grand Canyon, the Arizona Rim Country, Central Arizona, Southern Arizona, Southern Utah and Pariah Canyon. The company thoughtfully rates each trip for difficulty, solitude and "oh, @#%&!" factors. Book early, though space can sometimes be available at the last minute, especially from November through March.

Just Roughin' It Adventures
2040 S Alma School Road, Ste 1
Chandler, Arizona 85286
(877) 399-2477

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch--Colorado Ranching

Become a working cowboy for a week. Family-owned Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, is an easy shuttle ride from Denver. The cost in 2009 for week-long vacations is $1,400 to $2,300 per person.

A typical stay includes six nights' lodging, meals from Sunday dinner through Saturday breakfast, a horse program, guided walks, ranch chores, fly fishing and instruction, swimming, tennis, volleyball and horseshoe throwing. The horse package for adults includes riding instruction, horse-care clinic, planned rides, riding events, round-up and an overnight packing trip.

Special activities are available for teens, and children 6 to 12 years old participate in age-appropriate horse programs. If ranch activities are not enough, add whitewater rafting, massage therapy and yoga for an extra fee. Because winter weather is moderate on this side of Colorado, the ranch welcomes guests all year long.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
2939 N. County Road 31D
Loveland, Colorado 80538
(970) 667-3915
(877) 667-3999

New Mexico Driving Tour

Take a driving tour through New Mexico. Loop clockwise from Albuquerque to take in the American Indian pueblos, Conquistadors, Wild West settlers, natural wonders and cultural treasures in that part of the state. Take a guided walking tour from the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Tuesdays though Sundays, 11 a.m., from mid-March to mid-December.

First stop after Albuquerque is Silver City and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Continue to the El Malpais National Monument and Bandera Ice Cave and Volcano, then on to El Morro National Monument with its mélange of prehistoric petroglyphs, masonry ruins, and evidence of Spanish explorers and wagon train settlers.

Head north to Chaco Culture Center National Historic Park, then get off the main highway. Take the scenic route to San Ysidro and over the mountains to Bandolier National Monument. Next up is Taos, the city, its surroundings and the historic Taos pueblo. Visit Santa Fe before you return to Albuquerque, and definitely stop at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

Old Town
Central Ave. N.W. and Rio Grande Blvd.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104
(505) 243-7255

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
HC Box 100
Silver City, New Mexico 88061
(575) 536-9641

Taos Pueblo
Taos, New Mexico 87571
(575) 758-1028

Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

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