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Five American Desert Stays for an Extraterrestrial Experience

Two years have passed since movie fans have enjoyed the last movie from a director renowned for its distinctive visual aesthetics and narrative style. The director’s new movie will hit the big screen on June 16 and viewers will be transported back in time and transferred to a sci-fi world where humanity created a thriving city on an asteroid orbiting Earth. With 38%* of global travelers looking to explore an  extraterrestrial experience like UFO or alien spotting trips or tours in 2023 and with 43%** of travelers interested in traveling to a destination they have seen in a movie, we present five American desert stays that will take travelers to a picturesque background resembling the aesthetic and whimsical atmosphere of this fictional city.

Palm Springs, California

Known for its mid-century modern architecture with geometric shapes and clean lines, the desert city of Palm Springs is a popular destination in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California. Set 100 miles (160 km) east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs offers a warm climate and is home to beautiful buildings designed by famous architects, surrounded by the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains. Travelers inspired by the film and interested in exploring an extraterrestrial experience can choose between a great variety of activities including a private stargazing and UFO tour where they will observe the night sky in nearby town Joshua Tree using specialized gadgets like military-grade night-vision goggles. 

Where to stay: Those looking for a cozy stay that matches the movie’s retro aesthetic can spend the night at Les Cactus, a cozy Travel Sustainable hotel located a short drive from downtown Palm Springs.

Marfa, Texas

Located in West Texas less than 200 miles (300 km) west of El Paso, the small desert town of Marfa is known for its art community and is home to numerous galleries, studios and installations. This remote destination is also known for the “Marfa Lights” which are unexplained lights above the horizon that have inspired many ghost and UFO stories over the years. Travelers who love adventure, can book a Marfa scavenger hunt and explore the city through an exciting game. 

Where to stay: Located in the heart of Marfa, El Cosmico offers unique accommodation in tents, colorful caravans and bungalows. Guests can relax on their porch to enjoy the unique views of the night sky and if they are lucky they might also see the mysterious, glowing Marfa Lights.

Moab, Utah

Surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning red rock landscapes, the charming city of Moab is located in Grand County in southeastern Utah. Moab is a great place for stargazing thanks to its clear skies and limited amount of artificial lights. Travelers can watch the sun go down from the Devil’s Garden at Arches National Park during a sunset hike, an ideal place for viewing the night sky and spotting some magical lights moving across the sky. Its unique landscape of wide open spaces and piercing rock formations makes this destination breathtaking day or night. Adventure seekers can choose from a great selection of outdoor activities, like rafting tours and hikes

Where to stay: Set on the Colorado River, 14 miles away (24 km) from Arches National Park, one of Moab’s most popular places to visit, Red Cliffs Lodge is a Travel Sustainable resort offering authentic Western décor, including Mexican tile floors, wood-paneled ceilings and solid log furniture. Guests will also find a horse corral, Western film museum and Castle Creek Winery.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nicknamed ‘The City Different’ due to its unique and bohemian character, Santa Fe is the oldest state capital city in the United States located in northern New Mexico. One of  Booking.com’s top trending destinations for travelers to explore in 2023, Santa Fe is just a short  drive from the Hyde Memorial State Park, New Mexico’s first state park, and a great place for stargazing and astronomy. Travelers can also rent a car and visit the Shatter Cones Of Santa Fe, just off Highway 475, which are believed to be geological evidence of an ancient meteor impact. For those who wish to stay central, an adventurous Scavenger Hunt challenges visitors to search for clues and take on puzzles for an interactive way to explore the city, while immersing themselves in a local community on vacation in 2023. A downtown Santa Fe Photography Tour & Class gives visitors the opportunity to meet and learn from a Sante Fe resident and explore the city’s incredible historic architecture and cityscapes.

Where to stay: Located in the heart of Santa Fe, El Farolito B&B Inn features cozy rooms with handcrafted regional décor, kiva fireplace and artwork, set among gardens and walled-in patios.

Sedona, Arizona

Surrounded by red rock formations, Sedona is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. With stargazing being a popular experience in Sedona due to the clear skies, travelers can pick a dark spot to get the best views. Though it can get pretty chilly out in the Arizona desert, it’s worth it to get away from the light pollution and see the beautiful night sky. Travelers can search for UFOs and stars in the Sedona night sky at the UFO and stargazing night tour or explore the desert town's attractions on board an open-air vehicle to get a glimpse of the out-of-this-world hill formations, including the Red Rocks, the Coffee Pot Rock and the Cathedral Rock.

Where to stay: Offering breathtaking views of the red rock mountains in Sedona, Alma De Sedona Inn B&B is a travel sustainable property just off State Route 89A and only a 10 minute walk from Thunder Mountain and the Upper & Lower Chimney Rock hiking trails. After a busy day exploring Sedona’s attractions, guests can relax by the pool or visit the property’s labyrinth and medicine wheel and experience the spirituality of Sedona.

*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.

**Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.