Some of the driest cities in America also have the most interesting attractions. These cities are known for their high temperatures and arid environment. This also makes them the perfect places to use evaporative coolers. To beat the heat, evaporative coolers release both cool air and moisture into the air, providing a cooler, balanced living environment. This can provide great relief to those living in the Southwest, or other arid environments. However, you also want to be able to go out and see the sights. If warm temperatures and low humidity suit you, here’s some suggestions to help you plan that summer trip. These hot spots have some great attractions to check out along the way.
El Paso, Texas
- City Annual Average Precipitation: 7.82”
- Most of the rainfall is isolated to the late summer’s desert “monsoon” season
- The Wyler Aerial Tramway gives panoramic views of the Southwest Desert. It travels across the Franklin Mountains State Park. The Tramway is suspended over the valley floor, so it is perfect for the adventurer within you, but won’t be a pleasant experience for those of us who are afraid of heights.
- National Border Patrol Museum offers an insider look at the National Border patrol units that work on the border of the United States and Mexico. The owner is actually the wife of a border patroller, so she’s had firsthand experience with the artifacts and exhibits of the museum. There are also hilarious examples of the extremes that people will go to in order to enter the good-old U-S-of-A.
- Visit buildings from the time of Texas’ founding fathers. Magoffin Home State Historical Park is a stone’s throw from Downtown El Paso. Many of the buildings are from the 1870s and families will have a chance to see how their fellow Texans lived back in the day. However, the only way to see the park is on a guided tour, so you’ll need to call and make an appointment in order to see the history offered here.
- The Railroad and Transportation Museum of El Paso shows visitors the impact that the railroad had on settlement and development in Texas. The oldest classic American steam engine (1857) in the West can be seen here, the EP&SW Locomotive No. 1. Learn how the Mule Car evolved into the Electric Streetcar and how the railroad impacted Texas history.
- The Plaza Theatre has old-time theater glamour, while still offering contemporary performances. Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys are both on the schedule for performance in the coming months.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
- City Annual Average Precipitation: 7.64”
- Obviously, the biggest attraction is Grand Canyon National Park, but here are a few tips. Try to reach the Rim BEFORE sunrise, so that you can take plenty of photos in the changing light. Sunrise pictures of the Grand Canyon are a big crowd pleaser when hung above the mantle or posted on Facebook. Yaki Point is a good place for photo ops. Be sure to get at least a couple pictures of your family standing on the edge, which means bringing a camera with a timer or finding a random stranger to accomplish the task.
- Another way to see the Grand Canyon is to take a trip on the Grand Canyon Railroad (www.thetrain.com). The train departs daily at 9:30 from Williams, AZ, delivering its travelers to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park at 11:45 a.m. The train leaves at 3:30 for the return trip to Williams Depot. Arrive early for the train because the train depot has plenty of sights to see. The area around the train depot also offer some history about Route 66, since the road passes through, and offers a good dose of nostalgia.
- If you’re willing to take a detour El Tovar Hotel has tons of vintage charm. It was designed by Charles Wittlesey and opened in 1905. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, it boasts famous past guest such as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, President Bill Clinton, and Sir Paul McCartney. You can also movie memorabilia from “The Harvey Girls,” a 1946 MGM production starring Judy Garland. Get a refreshing, cool beverage at the cocktail bar with indoor and outdoor seating available.
- The Thunderbird Lodge is another historic lodging on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It offers scenic views of the canyon from many of its rooms and is only a short hike away from Hermits Ridge. Elk can often be spotted right outside the lodge
- City Annual Average Precipitation: 7.11”
- Phoenix has one of the hottest climates of any major city in the US. It has temperatures of over 100 degrees on an average of over 100 days out of the year. Phoenix is also home to one of the highest recorded low temperatures in history (96 degrees in 2003).
- If you’re looking for the full-Western experience, then visit Western Destinations Canyon Creek Ranch. They offer private tours of the property, as well as lessons in horseback riding, shooting a gun, and roping. By the end of the trip, you’ll feel right at home in their faux western town. You can even reenact the great shootout from “High Noon,” just recruit another family member to stand at 50 paces.
- 2 Fly Us provides private hot air balloon rides with an expert pilot. Take in the bird’s-eye-views of the desert below. Trips depart from Deer Valley Airport.
- Taste It Tours (http://tasteittours.com/) allows you to explore Phoenix’s greatest restaurants with a guided tour. Visit several restaurants over the course of the tour, with plenty of helpful suggestions from tour guides and restaurant staff.
- AZ Flyboard Rentals (http://azflyboardrentals.com/) allows you to try your hand at flying a jet pack, but this water sport also allows you to cool off in Lake Pleasant. Flyboards can both propel you through the water and rocket you up into the air. It’s probably one of the weirdest, coolest things you’ll do on a vacation.
Las Vegas, Nevada
- City Annual Average Precipitation: 4.19”
- Las Vegas has over 300 sunny days a year, with less than 30 days of precipitation annually.
- Of course, there are the traditional sights to see in Las Vegas. The Bellagio Fountains offer shows every 15 minutes or so after dark and provide a few minutes of a choreographed water show set to amazing music. However, the closer you are, the more likely you are to walk away from the show a little damp. There is also the Chapel of the Flowers, a popular destination for those looking for a quickie Vegas wedding, which you may regret in the morning. Seeing Celine Dion at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace offers a regret-free alternative to getting married, although you might be tempted after hearing “My Heart Will Go On” with that special someone.
- Battlefield Vegas gives an all-encompassing military training to tourists. They will pick you up in a genuine US military Humvee, take you to a 5-acre facility in the Nevada Desert and provide hands-on weapons training on a variety of historical and contemporary weapons systems. They also have a military Huey UH-1C helicopter, a Chieftain tank, and other army vehicles to climb into and explore.
- Dig This is “America’s first and only heavy equipment playground where YOU’RE in control” and offers visitors the opportunity to relive their childhood of sandcastle building, if your childhood included real Caterpillar bulldozers and excavators
- World Class Driving (http://www.worldclassdriving.com/) is your chance to drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini. These exotic supercars are great options to see the sights of Red Rock Canyon while also having the thrills of a lifetime.
- City Annual Average Precipitation: 2.64”
- Yuma was recently voted “sunniest place on earth” by the Guinness Book of Records. The sun shines in Yuma 93% of the time. August is the wettest month of the year there, with an average of about half an inch of rain.
- If you want to see the history of this pioneer town, Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park is the place to go. There, you can wander through the remnants of the historic prison, housing a total of 3,069 inmates from July 1, 1876 to September 15, 1909. Oddly enough, the prison was then turned into the Yuma Union High School, which taught students from 1910 to 1914. The prison is best known for its frontier justice, giving dark cells to inmates who broke prison regulations, and the ball and chain to prisoners found trying to escape. Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center gives visitors a firsthand look at where the military developed and tested technology. The museum offers a glimpse into what was developed there and how it was tested at the Yuma Proving Ground. Many of the technologies are still in use today, including the GPS technology found in most cars.
- For fans of aviation, the Yuma Landing Historic Site marks the place of the first plane landing on Arizona Soil, occurring in October 1911. There is a full-size bronze statue of the pilot, Robert Fowyler, and the Yuma Landing Bar & Grill offers great food. If your still in the mood for more history, there’s the Casa de Coronado Museum, located in the middle of the historic Best Western Coronado Motor Hotel next to the Yuma Landing Historic Site. This museum fuses the best of Yuma with artifacts with the history of Best Western.
With the summer fast approaching, the heat is only going to get worse. It’s April,
but Southern California is already in the low 90s today. And again, it’s April.
We’re still supposed to be wearing our light sweaters and grabbing a jacket on our
way out the door ‘just in case.’ Instead, we are trying to decide if it’s worth
the cost to turn on the air conditioner or if we should just suffer through it a
little longer. However, there is another option.
Evaporative coolers provide cooling comfort and are another way to beat the heat, but they also are much more energy efficient than traditional air conditioners. Evaporative coolers cycle hot air over moist pads, cooling the air then circulating it back into the room. It also adds moisture to the air through this process, so evaporative coolers work better in arid environments. The diagram below shows the best places to use evaporative coolers. Region A is best suited for evaporative coolers and will feel the biggest effect on the temperature, followed by Region B, which will feel comparatively less of a difference. If you live in Region C, you should do a little research about the average humidity in your area to find out if an evaporative cooler will work well for you.