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For A Peaceful Southwest Getaway, Begin And End In Las Vegas

Mark Stevens
Zion National Park, in southwest Utah, offers stunning views.

For an escape to the American Southwest -- with its open deserts, dark skies, and peaceful solitude -- begin in bright, noisy and busy Las Vegas.

That's the advice of KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley, but only because flights to the nightlife hotspot are relatively inexpensive. You can stay if you want, of course, or you can strike out into the countryside for some of the most beautiful scenery available in the United States.

First stop: The Grand Canyon. It's a four-hour drive from Las Vegas through some beautiful scenery. Stop along the South Rim, or even head down into the Canyon on a hike.

Credit Grand Canyon National Park
Floating your way down the Colorado River gives you a sense of the grandeur -- and nature -- of one of the Grand Canyon.

  "The last time I did it I was 25, so at that time it wasn't that hard," Brumley said. "It might be a little bit harder these days." 

The National Park Service saysit's been accomplished by people of all ages and skill levels-- and that you can do as much, or as little, as you'd like. 

From the Grand Canyon, head north, to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, both of which are in southern Utah. Bryce Canyon is about three hours north of the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park is another 90 minutes southwest from Bryce.

Something For Everyone

Mountain biking, hiking, hot springs, archeological treasures, and arts abound throughout the region. Brumley says the Grand Canyon is an amazing place for river rafting.

You can also set your level of comfort. There are resorts if you have time and money to burn. Or, if you're looking to keep moving and not spend a fortune on lodging, you can rent a camper van and sleep underneath the stars.

When you're ready to head home, it's a 2 hour, 40 minute drive back to Las Vegas. If you're not ready to return home, head north to Salt Lake City, and keep on vacationing.


Going Places is KPLU's weekly exploration of travel to places near and far. It's presented each week by Earthbound Expeditions co-founder Matthew Brumley. Earthbound provides small group travel around the world for numerous clients, including KPLU. You can let us know your own travel advice, or suggest future segments, in the comments below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.