14 Dreamy Desert Trips
From Egypt to Arizona, we've uncovered the dreamiest desert trips around the world.
Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.
Joshua Tree, California
Just a quick jaunt from posh Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. Its 800,000 acres of arid, otherworldly landscape sprawls across the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and is silhouetted by the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Check out the Cholla Cactus Garden and hike the three-mile trail to 3,371-foot Mastodon Peak to glimpse the Salton Sea.
Anantara Qsar al Sarab Desert Resort, UAE
After a scenic two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi through the rugged landscape of the Liwa Desert, you’ll find this secluded, sprawling oasis in the Empty Quarter — one of the largest unbroken deserts in the world. The resort stretches out nearly a mile, and blends effortlessly into the sand dunes. Soak in the scenery from a private plunge pool, relax in the spa’s hammam, or go on a sunrise camel trek.
Arches National Park, Utah
More than 2,000 naturally-formed red sandstone arches as well as dozens of rock formations, pinnacles and fins dot the landscape of Arches National Park in eastern Utah. The Fiery Furnace, Tower of Babel and Delicate Arch, among others, attract more than 700,000 annual visitors.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Deep in the heart of New Mexico, you’ll find one of the Southwest’s stranger sites: White Sands. These wave-like dunes of gypsum sand in Tularosa Basin make up 275 square miles of desert. Grab some camping gear and stay overnight to see the brightest stars—and in the daytime, you can sled down the slick slopes or get a bird’s-eye-view from a hot air balloon.
Erg Chebbi, Morocco
On the eastern edge of Morocco, bordering Algeria, is the remote Erg Chebbi. Camels carry you for miles over wind-swept dunes that tower up to 500 feet high. You can watch the sunset over the red sand, listen to local Berber music around a campfire, and sleep under the stars in a luxury tented camp. Or, if you have more opulent tastes, stay at the Mandarin Oriental riad in Marrakesh, which features a champagne bar, romantic plunge pools, exotic spa (try the black salt exfoliation and saffron scrub), plus a five-acre rose garden backed by the Atlas Mountains.
RELATED: Our Favorite Riads in Morocco
Atacama Desert, Chile
Journey to the Atacama‘s barren Salar de Tara (Tara Salt Flat) where you’ll spot wildlife like llamas, flamingos, and vicuñas (a member of the camel family). Once there, take a dip in the salt lagoons and geothermal hot springs, snap an insta-worthy shot of the Andes Mountains and explore the celestial landscape.
Hidden away on 600 acres of Utah wilderness, the Amangiri wins our hearts for its natural, subtle design, all ambers, yellows and pinks, that blend seamlessly with the canyons of the American Southwest. The earthy vibe extends to the interiors, done up in white stone floors, concrete walls and exposed wood and black steel detailing. Don’t miss a dip in the epic pool, which wraps around the landscape’s dramatic canyons and mesas.
Zion National Park, Utah
Steep plateaus, cliffs covered in more than 1,000 plant species, and mazes of sandstone canyons in shades of pink and red dominate Zion National Park‘s 229 square miles. Highlights include: Angel’s Landing (one of the highest peaks in the park) and The Narrows (a river canyon hike).
Looking to trade the Serengeti for the sand? The coastal desert that makes up northwestern Namibia is a harsh, lunar-like landscape of shifting dunes and stark terrain where elephants, giraffe, hyena, and even lions call home. Watch the scene unfold from any one of the eight tented suites at Wilderness Safaris Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, whose decks overlook a nearby watering hole, or on daily game drives that take in the isolated wilderness.
This artsy enclave just 45 minutes south of Flagstaff is one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. When you’re not out hiking the buttes and canyons of Red Rock State Park, make sure to leave time to explore the New Age shops, spas and galleries. Then, bed down in one of Enchantment Resort‘s casitas, which feature private plunge pools, beehive fireplaces and jaw-dropping views.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope is hands-down the most gorgeous of Arizona’s scenic slot canyons. Go during the day when light streams in illuminating the waving rock and its red, pink and orange colors. Just make sure to bring your camera—it is the state’s most photographed site after all.
The most breathtaking sight of them all is Egypt’s famous pyramid. Located in Giza, just outside of Cairo, the Great Pyramid was built back in 2551 B.C. by pharaoh Khufu and is the only one of the world’s ancient seven wonders that still stands today.
Longitude 131, Australia
On the outback’s rust-red sand dunes, surrounded by desert oaks and spinifex brush, are the 15 tented pavilions of Longitude 131. Each suite is done up in Aboriginal artwork, framed historical artifacts, and custom furniture from Australian designers. There’s even floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a private balcony with a plush daybed and fireplace — the perfect place to watch the sun rise over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The Wave, Arizona
On the border of Arizona and Utah, The Wave is a sandstone rock formation cut from the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau. Its U-shaped troughs that have been eroding since way back in the Jurassic age, creating the rolling, colorful vision it is now.
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