This Western Road Trip is All About Landscape and Wildlife

From the deserts of Arizona to the natural arches of Utah and the mountains of Wyoming, this trip offers an up-close view of some of the most stunning landscapes and impressive wildlife in the West.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Arches National Park

Nothing can be more humbling and inspiring than a trip out West. Majestic mountain ranges, diverse landscapes and magnificent natural wonders are seemingly at every turn. So, whether you fly in for a relaxing weekend or set off on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip of adventure, your visit will be unforgettable!

Cave Creek

Whether you're beginning or ending your journey in Arizona, consider a stop into Cave Creek. Just minutes north of Phoenix and Scottsdale, this lively community is nestled in the rolling desert foothills. Its rocky vistas are a stunning backdrop to award-winning hiking trails and bike paths. Go horseback riding or rent an ATV to explore the rugged landscape. And if you prefer your R&R a tad more sophisticated, check into a nearby resort to play a round of golf or enjoy a few spa treatments.

Petrified Forest National Park

While you get your kicks on historic Route 66 be sure to visit the Petrified Forest National Park a few hours from Flagstaff, where you'll discover interesting wildlife, archaeological sites and spectacular backcountry hiking. There's even a B.A.R.K. Ranger program, so your leashed fur buddy can take part in the adventure. FUN FACT: The amazing colors found in petrified wood come from three minerals — pure quartz, manganese oxides and iron oxides. But don't try to take a piece home with you — that's strictly prohibited!

The Painted Desert

Known for its bands of brilliantly colored sediment, the Painted Desert is situated near the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon and just inside the northern portion of the Petrified Forest National Park. This Arizona hot spot offers breathtaking hiking paths, picturesque vistas, and extraordinary sunset views.

Mystifying Moab

Moab, a relatively small town in eastern Utah, neighbors Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park so it's an ideal home base for travelers looking to experience all the area's natural wonders. It's also a hugely popular destination for mountain bikers and off-roading Jeep enthusiasts looking for trails that are as challenging as they are beautiful.

Arches National Park

Touted as the world's red-rock wonderland, this park near Moab, Utah, is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches and countless mind-boggling rock formations. The park and its many hiking trails are open year-round, but some trails (when icy) require special gear and are recommended for experienced hikers only.

Natural Steps

These natural steps are just one example of the many unique rock formations you’ll discover at the park. Keep in mind, March through October is the park's busiest time so it's not often you'll find this area so quiet.

Double Arch

This awe-inspiring pair of arches, found in the Windows section of the park, shares a stone foundation and was formed by downward water erosion, rather than the usual side to side erosion. That's part of what makes the Double Arch so rare.

Skyline Arch

This particular trail is short and suitable for all skill levels — especially the kiddos. Located near the Devil's Garden Campsite and Thompson, Utah, the half-mile path features lots of wildflowers and birds.

Historic Wolfe Ranch

Nestled inside Arches National Park quietly sits a historic log cabin built in 1906 by John Wesley Wolfe and his family, who were settlers from Ohio. All six family members lived in this one room cabin, raising cattle and living off the land until they sold it in 1910. Ultimately, Wolfe Ranch and the surrounding acreage were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, then became part of the Arches National Monument.

Grand Teton National Park

The magnificent Grand Teton mountain range in Wyoming is part of the larger Rocky Mountain system and spans 40 miles across. To fully experience the range and a variety of outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, camping and hiking, visit Grand Teton National Park during the summer months.

Experience the Seasons

Whether you’re heading out West in the warmer "green" season or the cooler "white" season, Wyoming landscapes are fantastic. In February you'll likely find pristine snow covering the ground, as pictured here near Jackson.

Turpin Meadow Ranch

Whether you stop in for a meal, special event or full-on vacation, the Turpin Meadow Ranch Resort is a hotspot for nature enthusiasts year-round. Located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, its luxurious cabins and chalets accommodate guests in high style. There are plenty of fun outdoor activities here, as well. In summer (green season) guests can fly fish, ride horses, bike and hike the nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In winter (white season) guests enjoy Nordic skiing, snowmobiling and plenty of fireside relaxation. This sunrise view of the nearby mountain range is truly breathtaking.

The Scenic Route

Driving into Grand Teton National Park is a spectacle, especially during the "white" season. If you plan on visiting during the winter months, be sure to research road closures and outfit your vehicle with the appropriate gear for driving in icy conditions. You can always rent a snow-ready four-wheel drive vehicle upon arrival.

Guided and DIY Tours

In Jackson Hole, you'll discover a variety of ways to see the sights and extraordinary wildlife, depending on the season. Book a guided tour by snowmobile, van or boat. There are several self-guided tour options available, as well. This group enjoyed the flexibility and comfort of a rented van outfitted with roof hatches.

Home on the Range

The majestic American buffalo (a.k.a. American bison) is the state mammal of Wyoming. This massive creature is deeply woven into American history with millions once roaming North America (European settlers hunted it to near extinction). The American bison was also an integral part of Native American culture-providing many tribes with food, shelter and clothing. However, visitors should be wary of these beautiful animals — buffalo they can be dangerous and have been known to run as fast as 40 miles per hour.

Jenny Lake

This gorgeous lake is located inside Grand Teton National Park and is a lovely spot to set up camp during the "green" season. During the winter months, accessibility is limited as the lake is frozen and often snow-covered.

Follow the Herd

One of the largest species within the deer family, elk feed on grass, plants and bark. During the rut (mating season) male elk use their large antlers to posture and spar for mating rights. A healthy elk in the wild will live to be around 12 years old.

Finding Sanctuary

Herds of elk can be seen throughout Wyoming, some in the National Elk Refuge. Near Jackson, the sanctuary was set up to help protect the elk once it was determined that the city’s development encroached on certain migration routes.

Out With the Old

Elk is part of the deer family of animals, so they're deciduous — meaning they grow and lose their antlers each year. They shed their beautiful antlers in late winter or early spring.

Extremely Busy Beavers

The powerful Snake River that winds around Wyoming was no match for a dedicated family of beavers. For many years these industrious little creatures have been busy stopping up a slow-moving branch of the Snake River at the base of the Tetons to create beautiful pools of water at Schwabacher Landing. It's one of the most photogenic areas in Jackson Hole! When the waters are still you can capture the reflection of the stunning Teton Range looming above.

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