Through red valleys
From the Petrified Forest National Park we drive north into the Navajo Nation and are shocked. In the largest Indian reservation of the USA we are confronted with conditions, as we would have expected them only in Mexico. Everywhere there is unimaginably much rubbish, stray dogs running around, dead dogs lying on the roadsides, cows and horses running freely through villages and cities (it smells accordingly) and many people have an alcohol problem. The semi-autonomous Navajo nation is struggling with great poverty.
We visit the Canyon de Chelly (Why were we there again?). That was the first and last time ... so much has to be said!) and then we drive on to the Four Corners. For 5 USD per person we are granted entry to the monument, where you can stand on four states of the USA at the same time. Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet at one point and form the only four-country corner of America.
The next morning we stand very early in the Visitor Center of the Mesa Verde National Park and want to make a tour to one of the rock houses carved into the stone by pre-Columbian Anasazi Indian tribes. "There are no tours available anymore, the cliff dwellings are closed for season", but I get a disappointing answer from the ranger to my question.
But the streets are still open and so we drive several loops through the park and pass the different dwellings. The architectural masterpieces are called "Spruce Tree House", "Sun Temple" or "Cliff Palace". The latter is the largest cliff house in North America and was built between 1190 and 1260 A.D., but already abandoned around the year 1300.
One day later we are standing at the entrance to Monument Valley. The entrance fee is 20 dollars, if you want to see the famous table mountains not only from the far away side of the 163. We swallow. Look at us. And superior. Quite steep what the Navajo demand for the visit of "their" Monument Valley. Especially if you consider that with the America the beautiful Pass you can visit ALL national parks of the USA for 80 USD during one year. We're talking about rock formations that stand there. By nature. But what do you want to do? Annoy, pay and get in. Or don't annoy, pay and clean. So the latter. A little later we drive the Loopdrive between the different rocks on a road in extremely bad condition. If you don't pay attention for a minute, everything in the back of the car is rearranged. One wonders where all the money of all the tourists flows to.
We have chosen the Muley Point as our overnight place this evening. First we drive up the steep and windy Moki Dugway and then have a breathtaking view of Monument Valley from above.
The next highlight is waiting for us again downstairs! We drive through the Valley of the Gods and can't get out of our amazement. We are suddenly surrounded by high bizarre rocks and drive through a Mars landscape (at least that's how I imagine Mars 😊). The landscape is characterized by red earth, sand and dryness.
Before more red rock formations await us in the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, we make a detour to the Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah's first NM. Main attraction are three natural bridges, which can be approached on a short loop through the park and admired from a vantage point. One could also see all the bridges from close up, if one accepts an extended hiking tour. But as an icy wind is blowing, we only decide to walk to the "Owachomo Bridge". In contrast to "Arches", "Bridges" are always created by water, which washes out a rock bit by bit, finally creates a breakthrough and only leaves the "bridge" standing.
Our next adventure takes place in Moab on a notorious off-road track. We will report about it, if we will survive this action safely ...