Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Imagine driving for hours on a straight road, nothing but flat red land around you, with one goal in mind : arriving at Monument Valley. You long to see, at last, those red-rock formations that you have seen in movies and cartoons, on advertisings and on photographs. There might be no landscape more iconic in the United States.

Finally seeing it is a pretty incredible sensation. From afar, it looks like a strange red city, erupting from nowhere.

Entering the park, things get a little more confusing. There is only one small hike in the whole park, and only one dirt road on which you may drive. You can not feel more a tourist as this, while driving in single file and stopping at all the viewpoints to take the same pictures as big Chinese groups around you, the same pictures you have seen all over the internet.

But you stop anyway, because even if it is just like walking into a picture you have seen a hundred times, there is a little more. There are the little houses, hidden by a big rock or in the middle of nothing, surrounded by dogs or horses. You hear and read about the “sacred places” you are not allowed to go to because they are only for the Navajo tribe living there. And then you realize. You, as a tourist, are not really welcome here. You only get to see the surface, the iconic pictures that you know by heart. The rest is hidden and forbidden (and maybe for the best, when you see how some tourists behave). You can only imagine.

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