Travel Trends By Jonathan Hermann & Dayna Engberg

Southwest National Parks


America's national parks have a transformative power. The wide-open awe, the astonishing scale, the intense beauty, the embraceable solitude of these protected wonderlands bring out the kid in us all. We find ourselves skipping ahead, leaping from rock to rock, splashing in streams and racing to the rim to stare out and yell, "Would you look at that!"

That power is much needed in today's world, where people are adapting their travel plans to better fit these unique times. As a result, Americans are focusing more on domestic destinations, especially ones that turn us into budding geologists and daring adventurers.

Here we'll focus on a few all-star national parks west of the Rockies. When paired with the luxurious accommodations of a SELECT hotel or villa, you get a complete and safe vacation experience that can truly transform you.


Welcome to America's first national park. Alive with thermal activity, thanks to the giant, dormant volcano at its center, the land is alive with geysers, boiling hot springs and bubbling mudpots. Amazingly, among this alien world, the park teems with wildlife. Grizzly bears and wolves amble amid the rugged peaks, while giant herds of bison and elk graze in the meadows near the ring road, staring nonchalantly at the long line of SUVs. The entire park, especially the iconic sights like Lower Falls and massive Yellowstone Lake, are humbling when first seen. Paintings and Instagram pics could never do them justice - they demand to be experienced with your own two eyes. This is certainly true of Old Faithful, a surprisingly punctual geyser that not only shoots out thousands of gallons of searing hot water every 74 minutes or so, but also leaves you with a deep respect of the geologic powers that are still shaping our world today.

That respect carries with you as you stay at Amangani, a SELECT property, in nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The 40-suite retreat is a year-round destination, making it ideal to launch your Yellowstone exploration whenever you want.

Old Faithful steaming at dawn
Peaceful day at Havasu Falls


Nothing can adequately prepare you for your first glimpse. The incredible chasm is deeper than imagined, the sun-striped canyon walls more imposing. However you choose to explore this marvel - racing through the gorge atop the Colorado River, the whitecaps propelling you forward; hiking around the well-trodden rim, your phone overflowing with pictures; astride a friendly mule, descending deeper into the limestone depths - your eyes remain perpetually wide, startled by the stunning landscapes. It's best absorbed over several days, from high above and far below, in order to appreciate this vast labyrinth of space, rock, water and beauty.

The Arizona desert town of Sedona - surrounded by red-rock buttes and filled with art galleries - makes a great basecamp for your grand adventure. We recommend all-inclusive Mii Amo - A Destination Spa or the one-story adobe accommodations at Enchantment Resort.


This twisting, enchanting gorge is a kindred spirit of the Grand Canyon, but more accessible and wonderfully alive with lush vegetation. Draping gardens are found near tiny grottoes, and wildflower meadows adorn the mesa-top. Their scent follows you when hiking downriver through the Narrows, an other-worldly section where the steep Navajo sandstone walls - afire with brilliant colors in the playful afternoon sunlight - rise up a thousand feet on either side as you traipse through the clear Virgin River.

Situated in southwestern Utah, Zion is a worthwhile and accessible retreat from the non-stop action of Las Vegas. SELECT Villas such as Chateau Villa at Caesars Palace and the Hakone Suite at Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace offer glittering neon views of the Vegas Strip along with incomparable amenities.

Meanwhile, SELECT hotels The Cosmopolitan and Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino provide even more choices. For those who'd prefer a closer base to the wild beauty of Zion, Amangiri in Kanab, Utah, is only a short drive away.

The Narrows cutting through the canyon
Milky Way view above a Joshua tree


At Joshua Tree National Park, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Los Angeles, you'll find the park's namesake growing in abundance. Winding gravel roads carve into the desert, revealing miles of curious yucca trees and their distinctive clusters of spiky leaves. The park offers several vistas and climbable boulders at every turn. After a fruitful day hiking, find a good vantage point to watch a watercolor desert sunset transform into a galactic blanket of awe-inducing constellations overhead.

It's easy to stay late at Joshua Tree with so many SELECT properties and villas in the area. Wheelhouse, a mid-century modern villa, sits near the entrance of the park amid 12 acres of untouched desert. You'll find more villa options, such as the four-bedroom Desert Solstice and the five-bedroom Goldeneye Estate, in nearby Palm Springs, along with the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa.

Plan your national park adventure around these luxurious SELECT hotels, resorts and villas. Not only do they provide exceptional luxury and prime locations, you'll also enjoy the bonus amenities available through SELECT Hotels & Resorts when you book through our agency. Contact us to book today!