Great views in the southern US?
April 16, 2009 12:11 PM   Subscribe

What are the best views you've experienced in the American South or Southwest?

Specifically Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Trite but true: The Grand Canyon and Sedona.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2009

City-wise, Bisbee, AZ - including the pit mine, if you can get a good view of it.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2009

This is a little north of your target, but there is a place in Utah I call The world's most beautiful rest stop.

It's in Utah (which, IMHO, has the best "southwest"-style landscapes), just off I-70 near the exit for Moab. The rest stop sits on top of a plateau that offers a panoramic view of the desert and surrounding mountains. I stopped there once at dusk and it was truly breathtaking.
posted by martens at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2009

The Grand Canyon was simply amazing, but I'm sure you've thought of that. In Louisiana, I have two. One is from atop a tall building in downtown New Orleans. You can see quite a ways, including a great view of the river as it twists away from the city. The other was from a cruise ship at night traveling along the Mississippi. Seeing the oil refineries lit up against the dark night with the open flames was really neat.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2009

Grand Canyon, of course.

The Valley of Fires, Carrizozo, NM

The view from Old Tucson Studio toward Green Valley.
posted by jgirl at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2009

Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Incredible, delicate, nature-shaped arches carved out of sandstone.

Monument Valley at the Utah/Arizona border. If this doesn't say Southwest, I don't know what does.

White Sands, New Mexico. Breathtaking giant mounds of pure white sand. Fun to walk around on. You can also rent a disc-shaped sled at the information center and go sledding down them (you have to wax the bottom of the sled to get good speed up - they give you wax).
posted by sickinthehead at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

This travel blog, Fred and Hank Mark America, has stunning photos and videos from the Southwest. Check days 29 to the most recent.
posted by jgirl at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2009

I'm sorry to make two posts. I hit enter too quickly.

In Texas, by far and away the most beautiful place is Big Bend National Park. I linked you to a photo, but a single photo will never do justice to this place. It is a long way to get there - probably about 200 miles from the closest reasonably sized city. It is worth it. I could spend months there if I had that kind of time.

In Louisiana, the swamplands are simply amazing and very unlike most of the rest of the United States. You can drive through them. Be warned that there are very few places to stop for food and gas once you get in there. Drive through at sunset or sunrise if at all possible.
posted by sickinthehead at 12:32 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

You didn't mention NC, but since this is just barely northeast of Georgia, I'll throw it out there. Max Patch. Gorgeous view of the old, beautiful Appalachians.
posted by torticat at 12:37 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Utah has a dozen places better than any of those other states. Bryce Canyon anyone?
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2009

A quieter view, but really special for me: On highway 191 in Utah there is a town called Monticello (about an hour south of Moab I think). Monticello sits beneath the Abajo Mountains. Go west on the main road from Monticello up the Abajos and then face East to see the San Juan range of Colorado on the horizon beyond a vast expanse of eastern Utah and western Colorado.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2009

Guadalope Mts Nat'l Park
posted by Flood at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2009

My favorite.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2009

In Georgia, Sapelo Island. In Lousiana, the Garden District. I'm also partial to Piedmont Park and the Midtown Atlanta skyline on a spring evening when the flowering trees are in bloom, but it's my neighborhood so I am biased!
posted by pointystick at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2009

Canyon de Chelly is a must.
posted by littlecatfeet at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2009

*pulls up chair and sits down*

1. The Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. Absolutely the most alien landscape I've ever seen; deep red stone carved into bizarre alien shapes, festooned with ancient petroglyphs. Only an hours' drive from Las Vegas.

2. Glen Canyon, aka Lake Powell, Arizona. This may be a little controversial to some; Lake Powell was formed when Glen Canyon was dammed up and flooded, and it did wreak a bit of environmental havoc on the canyon. But aesthetically it is pretty damn gorgeous; imagine the Grand Canyon, only flooded.

3. Zion Canyon, Utah. This is close enough to the Arizona border that you may want to consider it. I was more impressed by this than I was the Grand Canyon; I think the difference is that with the Grand Canyon, you are in the top looking down; with Zion, you are in the bottom of the canyon looking up, and it's more of an "ooh-wow" moment.

4. Sabino Canyon, just outside Tucson. Never in my life have I seen a sky that blue anywhere in the world.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Tent Rocks, NM. And the view from Overlook Park, in White Rock, NM.

Pretty much everything I saw in New Mexico, in fact.
posted by rtha at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2009

Cathedral Valley Overlook and the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

Zion Canyon and the Virgin River from Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah.

Monument Valley, Arizona.

Island in the Sky mesa top Canyonlands National Park, Utah

All photos by my brother.
posted by netbros at 1:29 PM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: These are great - keep 'em coming!

I should mention that I didn't include Utah on the list because I've been all over it, and I'm more curious about stuff near the I-10/I-20/I-40 southern routes (which I haven't gotten to do...yet).
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion at 1:33 PM on April 16, 2009

I've been on great hikes in the Superstition Mts (east of Phoenix, I think.) GREAT climbing there, too.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2009

Any sunset in rural Arizona is a million times better than a sunset anywhere else. Bisbee is awesome. Put the two together, it's amazing.
posted by pdb at 2:12 PM on April 16, 2009

Enchanted Rock, near Austin, TX.
posted by erikgrande at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2009

I'm saddened to admit that Mississippi is not all that attractive, unless you have a pine tree fetish. I live in the Southern part of the state, and I wish that we had wonderful places to camp and explore, but we just don't. The area around I-10 is especially not a scenic ride. The coast is unremarkable. I don't mean to slam my state, but there it is.
posted by thebrokedown at 2:26 PM on April 16, 2009

Maybe a bit further than you wanted, but worth it -
Bryce Canyon
Arches National Park
Zion Narrows
Death Valley
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:26 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is not like "oh fuck I'm at the Grand Canyon or anything" but more of like a "hey, this is really pretty and I had no idea it was here - in Junction, TX, off of 1-10 headed east before 290, on the junction (hey) of 83 and I-10, there is a little scenic overlook that I think they refer to as Lover's Leap. There's a little carpark up there, and it's kind of run down, and I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to walk past the little stone thing, but you can, and I have, and then you have this really pretty view of the South Llano River, and it's just really kind of out of nowhere, since if you are headed east on 1-10, you've pretty much been driving through a big old swath of complete fucking nothingness and then boom, here is this pretty little thing that nobody seems to care about.
posted by mckenney at 3:48 PM on April 16, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns is pretty cool, in a let's go underground and gape at all the awesome rock formations kind of way, but it's definitely not easy to get to.
posted by sugarfish at 9:59 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Tent Rocks in NM.

Also in NM:
From Albuquerque, drive about an hour northwest to the village of San Ysidro, then continue on Route 4, which will take you through Jemez Pueblo, the village of Jemez Springs, Valles Caldera, and then Bandelier National Monument. The photos that go with these links don't begin to do justice to the places themselves; you just gotta go and see for yourself.
posted by littlecatfeet at 6:12 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yet more in NM:
Taos, including Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande Gorge.

Also Acoma. Note that Acoma has some restrictions on photography (though permits can be purchased), among other things. The rules in print look a little restrictive, but it doesn't feel that way when you're there, as long as you're reasonably respectful. There's also a fair amount of emphasis given to folks selling stuff, but it's mostly cool stuff and you really don't HAVE to buy anything, so don't let that ruin it for you. Enjoy the artwork, the people, and the views. Even if you don't end up with one photo, the experience of being there is worth it, IMO.
posted by littlecatfeet at 6:35 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cumberland Island has great views of ruins of mansions, beaches, forests, dunes, wild horses and a really scenic boat ride to get there and back again. You can't go wrong.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2009

Gates Pass is 10 minutes from I-10 in Tucson. The overlook closes after sunset, like the curtains coming down just after the climax of the show.
posted by carsonb at 3:10 PM on April 17, 2009

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