The American Southwest is home to one of the largest concentration of National Parks and Monuments in the United States. Known as the Grand Circle, it encompasses portions of five states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. It is one of my favorite places to visit and I would need to spend years trying to take in all that the Grand Circle has to offer. Why so long you may ask? Here are a few numbers that give the enormity of the challenge: the Grand Circle contains 12 National Parks, 21 National Monuments and 29 Scenic Byways. Add into that the multitude of State Parks and you get a sense of the magnitude and beauty that is contained there.
Much of the scenery is obvious with large sandstone rock formations, buttes and mountains that are seen from great distances. Other parts of the scenery are not as obvious until you start to really explore and discover caverns and canyons like the one pictured in this image of Canyon de Chelly National Monument along the eastern border of Arizona. From ground level, there is no indication that there is a canyon that encompasses 131 square miles until you walk up to the edge and get a view of the immense canyon floor. It is part of the Navajo Nation and there are numerous ruins along the walls of the canyon. While this image shows a minute portion of the park, one still gets a sense of how huge and beautiful it is.