Tuesday, July 14, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

12 Coolest Desert Towns in the United States

You have to admit it: the United States has it all! It has forests, tundra, wetlands, prairies, beaches, and even a little bit of the tropics. With all these options, it’s easy to wonder why on earth anyone would want to live in the desert! Actually, living in the desert can be pretty cool (and we’re not talking about temperature). You can fry an egg on the sidewalk, bake cookies on your dashboard, and have a scorpion for a pet, but there’s even more the desert than that. Check out these cool desert towns! You’ll wonder why you’ve never visited before.


1    Sedona

Sedona, Arizona takes #1 on our list because you really can’t beat the views. Sedona is famous for its red rock formations and bizarre skyline. The funky town that has grown up in the heart of these hills can’t quite decide whether it wants to be Wild West or New Age, but we don’t really care—we’ll take the barbequed ribs and the yoga, thanks! A hike up one of the interesting formations is definitely a bucket-list experience.
Sedona, Arizona
2    Taos

This town has been around for a long, long time. A thousand years, in fact. A couple miles outside the town, there is a Native pueblo that is estimated to have existed for about a millennia. The coolest part is that the Taos people still live in it! The town center of Taos has thriving arts culture as well as other historic sites dating as far back as the period of Spanish colonization.
3    Silver City

Silver City, a desert mining town, is a mere pinprick on New Mexico’s map, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The historic downtown area has been transformed into one of the most interesting shopping areas we’ve ever found. One store is full of antique hats, another sells handspun yarn. The highlight, of course, is the old-timey ice cream shop.
Silver City
4    Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Arizona is the wealthiest area in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Scottsdale Fashion Square is the place to shop if you’re looking for high-end purchases, and the sheer magnitude of the homes is astounding. Don’t forget to check out the rural areas, though—the contrast between the suburbs’ glittering mansions and the desert’s western ranch culture makes Scottsdale a very interesting place to visit.
5    Glendale

Nope, not the one in California. Glendale, Arizona is often lumped into the general environs of Phoenix, but that doesn’t make it any less its own town. Glendale boasts a beautiful suburban area, which has been voted the best walking city in the nation because of its many desert hills, greenbelts and duck ponds. It also has a lovely downtown area, and it’s home to the football stadium of the Arizona Cardinals.
6    Springdale

The best part of Springdale, Utah is its location. Zion National Park is the dramatic backdrop to this town, and it’s certainly a sight you can never stop looking at. The mountains aren’t the only thing worth looking at, though—the town in the canyon is pretty gorgeous itself! This tiny little historic town is picturesque, and it’s a great place to stay while visiting Zion National Park.
Springdale Utah
7    Wickenburg

You want old west? We’ll give you old west. Head to Wickenburg, Arizona, where people still live and breathe horses and ranching. You can even experience the ranching life for a day! Hitch your horse at Date Creek Ranch, where you can pick apples in the fall and peaches in the summer. Fresh-picked fruit never tasted so good! The downtown area features dozens of historic buildings, including the theater (which is still in use) and the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.
8    Picacho

An ostrich farm in the middle of Arizona? Well, why not! Other than the petroglyphs on the rocks and the strange-looking peak behind the town, there’s literally nothing but an ostrich farm in Picacho. Still, the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is worth stopping for on your drive from Phoenix to Tucson. If the ostriches and deer don’t catch your attention, the monster trucks will.
9    Tombstone

Ever heard of the gunfight at OK Corral? It was a real shootout, and it happened in Tombstone, Arizona. True to its chilling name, Tombstone was the demise of many cowboys and has a very interesting graveyard. The most famous tombstone reads, “Here lies Lester Moore, 4 slugs from a .44, No Les, no more.” Of course, the danger and intrigue of Tombstone has long since passed away. Today, it’s a tourist attraction because of its wild stories and interesting historic architecture. Still, there’s a hint of the Wild, Wild West spirit lingering in the air!
10    Marfa

This town has made it to every “Awesome Little Town” list ever, so we naturally must include it here. Besides being near the teeny-tiny Prada museum in the middle of the desert, this Texas town has a really cools arts scene and some alleged paranormal activity. The creative homes and ghost lights continue to draw visitors deep into the Texan desert.
11    Palm Desert

Many of the commuters who work in Palm Springs actually live in Palm Desert. And it’s a great place to live! Shopping, dining, golfing, and a plethora of outdoor adventures make this a great place to play and stay.
Palm Desert
12    Calico Ghost Town

What would a list of cool desert towns be without including a ghost town? Calico Ghost Town can once a thriving silver mining town, but when the silver ran out, so did the people. Today, it’s a tourist attraction that has been restored to its original state.
Calico Ghost Town


There you have it—the coolest desert towns in the United States! Each one has its own charm and appeal, from ultra-modern lifestyles to old west throwbacks. If you’re looking for a great place to vacation (or even move), why not consider one of these towns? See the dry side of the United States for yourself and you’ll discover a piece of living history that makes America what it is today.


  1. Mirian
    September 5, 2017 - 1:32 am

    Being an African feels good, but growing up strictly in Africa without visiting other countries is what I detest. I hope my parents take me to Marfa in the U.S. Having heard so much about the United States and museum in the middle of the desert, I just want to see them.

  2. Samantha
    September 5, 2017 - 11:29 am

    Coolest desert towns? Sounds confusing, but I got to know why as I continued reading. It would be exciting to see the aftermath of the gunfights at OK Coral. It must have been bloody fights all through.

  3. Halyna R.
    September 5, 2017 - 12:03 pm

    I’ve always had a fascination with the Wild West, so I’m definitely putting Sedona and Tombstone on my trip destinations list. From what I’ve heard, Tombstone actually holds historical reenactment events of the gunfight at OK Corral. I think this is a must-see for history buffs. This way you not only get to visit a historical place but experience the history as well. Calico Ghost Town also sounds like an interesting place to visit. Although I’m not very superstitious, I can imagine the town…

  4. Rachel
    September 6, 2017 - 2:11 pm

    Before now, anything desert was scary to me until I took the courage to make my adventurous life complete by visiting a couple of deserts in Africa. It’s really a place to be to learn the other sides of nature. I plan to have one more visit before the end of this year. I’m sure the Taos will be a good choice.

  5. Caitlin
    September 6, 2017 - 3:41 pm

    I have wished to visit Zion National Park for quite some time. I have friends who are originally from Utah and they say it’s absolutely wonderful! Especially for things like rock climbing and hiking. The desert can be absolutely breathtaking and I wonder why more people don’t visit! I would also like to visit Taos someday because it’s a veritable font of historical information! The same goes for Tombstone, as well, of course! There is so much to see and do in the deserts of the United States…

  6. Joanne
    September 8, 2017 - 4:05 am

    I’ve never been to the U.S. but I have to admit that it does seem to have it all. The Taos town looks super cool, I’ll definitely add it on my list of reasons to visit the United States. Springdale also looks so beautiful and intriguing. I’ve never seen pine trees growing on red rocks. Marfa and Calico Ghost Town seem so appealing as well.

  7. Kelly
    September 10, 2017 - 3:27 pm

    I wish I came across this list before I went on a road trip around the US. I actually drove very close to a few of these places, but the only town I recall stopping at is Calico Ghost Town – and that was because my partner really wanted to visit a ghost town.


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