From Arizona to California: How to See the Best of America's West
By admin
Published 20/10/2015

The United States are continental in size, much larger than any European country and are made up of stark contrasts from bustling cities, empty deserts, huge mountains and everything in between.

Sunrise over the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Photo credit: Flickr/Diana Robinson

America’s west can be a hostile land for sure, but there’s rich rewards for anyone exploring these great lands. As the country is split by the huge mountain range of the Rocky’s, the landscape begins its bumpy descent all the way to the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

Colorado river, Marble Canyon. Photo credit: Flickr/Joshua M

Out west, distances between cities become vast with the region split between the extreme interior and more habitable coastal region. States such as Arizona are mostly unpopulated, with the vast majority of the population taking shelter from the hot sun in well-established cities and townships.

Grand view of the Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Flickr/Todd Petrie

The landscape is arid, seemingly never ending and almost featureless for the most part. However, there are some absolute must see destinations in this part of the desert south west, the Colorado river flows through this huge American state, and most famously, the river has carved out many great canyons and gorges. The most famous of which, is the Grand Canyon. This huge canyon runs for almost 300 miles and presents some incredible views into our planet’s natural history.

Las Vegas, the desert city. Photo credit: Flickr/Tony Kent

Further west, across the Arizona desert lies the state of Nevada and the bright lights of Las Vegas. A city literally born out of the desert, this city has become a celebration of the modern world. The famous Las Vegas strip plays host to enormous hotels, casinos and shops, all competing to offer an experience like no other. Las Vegas is wild and loud, creating it’s own very unique culture and environment.

death Valley, California. Photo credit: Flickr/Ellie

Not far west from Las Vegas is Death Valley, a desert valley in the extreme east of California. Surrounded by mountains, the valley has become famous for its extreme heat, with world records recorded here during summer months. The valley itself is not only the hottest and driest area in the entire United States, it’s also the lowest point at 85 metres below sea level. The area is designated as a national park and there’s several tours of the area describing its long and unforgiving history, particularly concerning those who came here in search of gold and other precious metals. Fortunately, these days the risks of getting out alive are significantly higher!

Route 1, Bixby Creek Bridge, California. Photo credit: Flickr/Don Graham

Towards the coast, California becomes more densely populated, from San Diego on the Mexican border to San Francisco and Sacramento to the north of the state. This long strip of coast is well connected with interstates and scheduled flights operating between cities. For those who really want to explore the coastline in all its beauty, US route 1 hugs the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles, giving superb views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and mountains to the east.

The Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco. Photo credit: Flickr/Giuseppe Milo

The western cities themselves are huge, Los Angeles in particular sprawling across southern California and being home to not just millions of people but also to Hollywood and Disneyland. San Francisco, famous for its Golden Gate Bridge offers a very refreshing approach to big city life with wide open spaces and many communities establishing themselves nearby, particularly notable are the large technology companies, such as Facebook, Apple and Instagram having their headquarters in the region.

From the barren flat plains of Arizona, huge canyons, massive cities and everything in between, the American west offers it all.

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