Top Ten Spring Activities in the Southwest

From exploring Spanish architecture to riding the Grand Canyon railway, there's no shortage of adventure in the Southwest

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Be awed by the Grand Canyon

A mile deep and up to 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The most accessible part, the South Rim, can be viewed from the national park’s free shuttle buses. There also are opportunities to hike, camp, ride a mule to the bottom, and take a raft trip through the canyon on the Colorado River.

See desert cacti in Tucson

The Arizona desert is home to the nation's largest cacti and a symbol of the American West – the giant saguaro. Two wonderful places to learn about them and walk among them are the west side of Saguaro National Park and the adjacent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which encompasses a desert zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, aquarium, and art gallery.

Visit a Native American pueblo in New Mexico

The state is home to 19 pueblos, both modern and older communities of southwest Native Americans. You can learn about all of them at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Many can be visited, including the Cochiti Pueblo, where you can see traditional dances and ceremonies, and the Santa Clara Pueblo, where you can find special pottery and visit the fascinating Puye Cliff Dwellings.

Appreciate art and architecture in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Not only is Santa Fe one of the world's major art centers, it contains the country’s highest concentration of adobes – low-slung, earth-colored buildings made of adobe bricks, a mixture of sun-dried earth and straw. Wander the walkable city and make sure to include Canyon Road, a half-mile stretch of top galleries and boutiques with art by local, national, and international artists.

Explore the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona

This amazing collection includes more than 6,500 instruments from around the world. See the instruments, hear how they sound, and see how they’re played in their original contexts. You’ll also get a look at instruments from music icons such as John Lennon, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley, Carlos Santana, and many more in the Artist Gallery.

Take off for Pima Air & Space Museum

The Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world, features over 300 historical aircraft – from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner. Docent-led walking tours and Tram Tours are offered daily; the museum also offers bus tours of the 2,600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard,” a U.S. military and government aircraft storage facility.

Watch the sun rise over Chaco Canyon, the center of an ancient world

Not seen anywhere else in the American Southwest, Chaco Canyon’s massive buildings still testify to the organizational and engineering abilities of ancestral Pueblo peoples. For a deeper experience of this very special place that was sacred to thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D., explore Chaco through guided tours, hiking and biking trails, evening campfire talks, and night sky programs.

Marvel at the natural beauty of Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns offer wonders above and below the ground. Above, in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, you’ll find high ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus and desert wildlife of all kinds. Beneath the surface are more than 119 known caves – all formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone to create wondrous caverns of all sizes.

Learn about the richness of Native American art and culture

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, one of four museums in the Museum of New Mexico system, is a premier repository of Native art and material culture and tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art. The museum serves a diverse, multicultural audience through changing exhibitions, public lectures, field trips, artist residencies, and other educational programs.

Volunteer in your local community

Whether you prefer to walk the dogs at an animal shelter, serve food at a soup kitchen, or plant a tree with a conservation group, there are many ways to volunteer in your local community. You’ll find plenty of other opportunities at or Be sure to tag #cieegivingback when you post your photos! 


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