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What Are the Best Months to Travel the Southwest?

Last Update on September 11, 2023
by Sunny Samaroo
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The American Southwest boasts stunning landscapes, from vast deserts to majestic canyons. Whether you're taking a month-long vacation or just a 3-day tour of the Grand Canyon, there are some important things to consider first.

No matter where you're planning a trip to, choosing the right time to visit can make all the difference in your travel experience. In this case, what are the best months to travel the Southwest?

Short answer: March to May and September to October are the best months to travel the Southwest.

Long answer: Though the spring and fall months are typically the best times to visit, the Southwest offers something unique and captivating in every season. Let's break it down to find the best months for your journey.

Spring (March to May)

As the chill of winter retreats and the world begins to awaken, the Southwest comes to life during spring. Wildflowers, like vibrant desert marigolds and lupines, blanket the landscapes. 

The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures gradually rising but still comfortable for outdoor activities. It's an ideal time to visit iconic national parks like the Grand Canyon. The crowds are thinner compared to the peak summer months but it's warm enough to hike.

Summer (June to August)

Summer in the Southwest can be hot and intense. With scorching temperatures during the day, especially in the desert regions, it's crucial to stay hydrated and avoid outdoor activities during peak heat hours. 

However, if having enough daylight hours is a dealbreaker, this might be the season for you. Higher-altitude places like Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park may be more moderate. Just be prepared for more tourists at the most popular attractions.

Related Reading: How much time do you need at Bryce and Zion?

Fall (September to November)

For many travelers, fall is the absolute best time to experience the Southwest's wonders. The summer heat starts to wane, and the air becomes crisp and refreshing. As the days grow shorter, the landscapes are painted with warm hues of red, orange, and gold. 

This season is perfect for hiking and outdoor adventures, as the weather is comfortable and the trails are less crowded. Don't miss the chance to visit Monument Valley, where it's often too hot during the summer.

Winter (December to February)

Winter in the Southwest brings colder temperatures in the higher elevations and milder conditions in the desert regions. Snow might grace the mountain peaks but you can still explore the valleys and mesas without worrying about extreme cold (though nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing all the same)

Winter offers a more tranquil experience, and it's an excellent time to visit popular destinations like Antelope Canyon without battling large crowds. If you're a fan of stargazing, the clear winter skies provide breathtaking views of the stars above the desert landscapes.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your preferences and tolerance for weather conditions, all four seasons have their own unique charm and attractions to offer.

However, the best months to travel the Southwest are generally spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). These seasons offer a perfect balance of pleasant weather, blooming landscapes, and fewer tourists. 

When planning your trip to the Southwest, consider where exactly you want to go. If you're not sure yet, check out our post on our favorite national park tours from Las Vegas for inspiration!

Whether it's hiking through majestic canyons, marveling at ancient ruins, or simply relaxing amidst the beauty of nature, the Southwest has something for everyone, all year round.


Sunny Samaroo

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