The photo is of Monument Valley and although the entrance is actually in Utah, the location is in the four corners where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. It is a Navajo Tribal Park which is similar to a US national park. It is about a 17 mile ride on a dirt road and it takes about 2 to 3 hours to see it all. But, as mentioned above, I saw it with different eyes and it was a lasting experience.
I was on my own at an early age and living in California and wanted to travel east to find parts of a fractured family as has been experienced by many people. I had already been moved to California by my father and had to begin to find my own way back to where home may have been. At the time, route 66 was the main highway between Chicago and Los Angeles. It was the best way to travel for a young hitch hiker with limited resources. The experience is one that can only be described as life changing as what I saw was life at its best and its worst. But part of the journey included leaving the trail and seeing the remarkable natural wonders like Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, The Petrified Forest, and Monument Valley. And although many of these locations were far afield from route 66, it was worth the detour. The best part was that these now iconic vistas had almost no rules, regulations, and tourist traps. Truly a magical time! And, as a side note, movie director John Ford filmed many of his best known western movies at Monument Valley.
Looking at the images now and experiencing them as natural phenomena is quite interesting. In the image above I see the beauty; but, standing there as a young 13 year old I saw heat, emptiness, and the barren landscape. It was so quiet and yet peaceful. But, it does raise the question that remains today. How did this beauty begin?