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View of a lake in a desert with an expansive blue sky above and a dry landscape with shrubs in the foreground



The American Southwest is home to some of the most beautiful and popular tourist destinations in the country, from the stunning Grand Canyon to the red cliffs of Zion National Park. It also happens to include many quieter places that are perfect for peaceful exploring. Here are some under-the-radar spots where you can escape the crowds this spring.

Laughlin, Nevada

If you’re looking for some urban fun (perhaps with a little gambling thrown in) but don’t want the crowds or hassle of Las Vegas or Reno, head over to Laughlin instead. Not only will you find beautiful views of the Colorado River, but you can enjoy dozens of casinos, spas, and restaurants that make this a favorite getaway for those in the know. Laughlin also has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including kayaking and golf, if you’d rather be out in the fresh air.

Apache Junction, Arizona

Opt out of Tucson, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon, and head to this quaint town instead. You’ll enjoy easy access to the Superstition Mountains and dozens of historical sites, including abandoned mines, ghost towns, and even the last remaining narrow-gauge railroad in the state. You’ll find zip-lining, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing opportunities, and if you need a quick urban fix, just pop over to Phoenix, which is just 35 miles away.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico

If you love being on the water and under the beautiful Southwest skies, Elephant Butte Lake State Park is the place for you. Take your pick of jet skiing, kayaking, sailing, or lounging on the sandy beaches. Escape from modern life and stay in their campgrounds, or set up a home base in nearby Truth or Consequences, where you can enjoy a charming, old-fashioned, and quintessentially New Mexican city.

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Skip Arches and Zion – and enjoy this state park in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in Southwest Utah, which is just as stunning and far less crowded. Take in 7,400 acres that feature lava flows, sandstone cliffs, dunes, and pristine desert habitat. Spring is the perfect time of year to see coyotes, roadrunners, and gila monsters, not to mention the stunning desert wildflower display.

For more travel tips and tricks, plus plenty of trip ideas, make sure to check out the Sundance Creek blog.