Spring Break 2016: Northern Arizona's Hidden Gems

To all you college students out there: Spring break is more than booze cruises and hook-ups in Cancun. It's a chance to take that free time and spend it chilling out (sans homework) or experiencing a new place like never before.

So, with Spring Break on our heels, it's time to rethink the typical tourist hot spots and opt for something a little more off-the-beaten path. Here's our guide to five must-see sights when road tripping through Northern Arizona.

Get Wild

It's easy to see why Monument Valley has left countless visitors spellbound. Aside from its fame as a western movie set, the area's fragile pinnacles and windblown sand are infused with a kind of magic that can't be felt anywhere else. But did you know that you can actually stay within the Navajo-controlled park? For less than $25 a night, you can pitch a tent directly in front of the famed monuments.

Antelope Canyon

Possibly known to be one of the most photogenic slot canyons in the world, Antelope Canyon is privately owned and can only be explored with a Navajo guide. For optimal photo times, opt for a mid-day tour when the beams of light filtered through the canyon ceiling are just right. Just be careful of the tourists.

Too "Dam" Fun

It's certainly a bit jarring to find a huge body of water sitting in the middle of the desert, but such is the case with Lake Powell. A mecca for boaters and intrepid travelers, alike, the lake provides a scenic backdrop for activities like SUP, kayaking and water skiing. Visit the Glen Canyon Dam for the expansive vistas and head inside the Visitor's Center to really appreciate the man-made work of art.

Horseshoe Bend

One of the most photographed areas on the Colorado River, Horseshoe Bend is located just north of Grand Canyon and outside Page, Arizona. Very inconspicuous from the road, the incredible natural bend would be easy to miss if not for the groups of tourists that can be seen lumbering up the sandy trail. Avoid going mid-day when the sun is hottest.

Explore Little Hollywood

Unless you're from the area, we'll bet you've never heard of Kanab, Utah otherwise known as "Little Hollywood". Serving as the backdrop in many a film (Stagecoach, The Lone Ranger and Planet of the Apes, just to name a few) this small city is located just north of the Arizona state line. Check out the Moqui Cave, Buckskin Gulch and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest animal sanctuary in the world.

Hillary Federico is a writer, editor and photographer born and raised in New England. In her search to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, Hillary journeyed to New York to try her hand as a writer for reality tv, jetted to Nicaragua where she launched a non-profit foundation, and spent hours in the kitchen contemplating quitting it all for culinary school. Follow her continued adventures on Instagram @hfederico or on her blog www.andtheretheygo.com.