Autumn has arrived, and with it, seasonably cooler temperatures. Now is the perfect time to visit these fall vacation hotspots for those who enjoy or are interested in desert destinations. The summer heat has abated, and travelers flock to the Southwest United States for recreation and relaxation. Vacation Rental Collective has selected some of our favorite things about our top desert vacation destinations, and we’re excited to share them with you!
Festivals & Celebrations
The end of October brings some of the season’s most exciting celebrations, including Dia de los Muertos. Phoenix is sure to impress with its array of annual Dia festivities, including celebrations at the Desert Botanical Garden. Festival goers can experience music, art, costumes, food, dancing, activities for kids, candlelight processions, and much more. Visitors can also expect various Halloween celebrations all over Phoenix, from a silent showing of the original Phantom of the Opera at the Orpheum Theater to multiple tours of the city’s haunted establishments.
Other seasonal celebrations include the inaugural Kierland Fine Art & Wine Festival during the end of October, the celebrated Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships on November 5th, and also on November 5th the Arizona Fall Festival. This festival promises to showcase everything Arizona with live music, beverages, food vendors, games, a silent auction, and much more.
The Greater Phoenix area is loaded with fine and casual dining options, and foodies will rejoice at the variety of selections available. A window into the cultural diversity of the area, Phoenix has everything from relaxed sushi at Chef Hashimoto’s Hana Japanese Eatery to the sophisticated elegance of The Mission, which blends Spanish, Mexican, Central, and South American influences. There are also many breweries, distilleries, and wineries to sample.
The Sonoran Desert
The breathtaking beauty of the Sonoran desert that surrounds the city, with the towering mountains, is a wonderful place to explore during the cooler months of winter. There are several superb hikes for all ability levels in the area, with everything from mountain summits to petroglyph tours. If hopping in the water is your style, the Salt River has tubing, kayaking, wild horse viewing, and much more.
History & Science
To experience the 20th century, visit Heritage Square and the Rosson House Museum and Science Park. Another great stop for science lovers is the Odysea Aquarium, Arizona’s largest aquarium. To see the architecture and engineering skills of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People, visit the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. These ancient people are the original developers of the land, and their descendants still call the Phoenix area home.
The Colorado River
The mighty Colorado River crosses through Moab on the far western edge of town and is both wild and natural while simultaneously accessible as a municipal recreation resource for Moab. Lion’s Park and the areas accessible from here are a natural gem that travelers of all ages and abilities can enjoy. Many trails, such as Grandstaff Canyon, start on the paved bike path. Paralleling the Colorado River for 5 miles round trip with only 40 feet of elevation change and fully wheelchair accessible, this can be a perfect way for anyone to enjoy the area's beauty without traveling out of town.
There are scenic places to enjoy along the river, such as the Big Bend Recreation Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In Big Bend, you will find beaches, boat launches, and more. This is a perfect place to stop for a picnic, hike, swim in the river, or an exciting raft trip.
Located about 40 minutes from downtown Moab, Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s largest national park and is famous for its expanse of natural beauty and stunning geology. Visited by people for over 10,000 years, it is a fascinating area full of history and beauty. Divided by the Colorado and Green rivers into three distinct districts, Canyonlands offers diverse adventure everywhere. While both The Needles and Island in the Sky districts are comparably accessible, The Maze district is the most remote and challenging to navigate, and high-clearance 4WD vehicles are required to travel The Maze’s remote roads.
Although Canyonlands is open year-round, some facilities and roads will close due to the season or weather. As there are few services in this stunning but isolated area, it is recommended that you bring what you need with you.
Only five miles north of Moab on US 191, the iconic Arches National Park is like visiting another world. Gravity, water, and time have all transformed this landscape into the area we enjoy today. Arches is a world-class destination with over 2,000 gravity-defying arches visitors can seek out and admire. The park is open to self-directed travel, although some areas require permits, and the NPS Rangers also offer guided programs. You’ll want to plan for at least a few hours to see some of the arches, and longer trips can provide access to areas that are a bit more off the beaten path.
Backpacking, climbing, canyoneering, and more are also available within Arches, but with Moab’s ever-growing popularity, it is recommended to plan ahead regarding reservations and permits.
The Southwestern United States is a treasure trove of fantastic winter travel destinations. Vacation Rental Collective is here to help facilitate your next adventure into the magic of the desert. We offer best-in-class accommodations and services in both Phoenix and Moab, so you can rest assured that you’ll find the perfect accommodations. Whether you prefer rural and rustic or cosmopolitan and chic, we’ll find you the ideal place to stay.
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