Everyone of a certain age will have a clear mental image of Roadrunner Country — those vast tracts of orangey-red desert through which Wile E Coyote vainly pursued his elusive feathery nemesis. Animated though they may have been, these memorable backdrops — with their castle-like sandstone rock formations, classically shaped cacti and long, ruler-straight roads — closely resemble the deserts of the Southwestern US, specifically those found in the Four Corners, the arid region that incorporates the touching corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
If you want to see Roadrunner Country for yourself, a good starting point is Monument Valley, a stunning Wild West landscape within the Navajo Reservation on the Arizona-Utah state line. The valley is known for its striking sandstone buttes, the most famous of which are the iconic Mittens. Meanwhile, just 20 miles north west is the tiny village of Mexican Hat, named after a curious nearby rock formation comprising a large, flat 60ft-wide rock perched precariously on a much smaller rock at the top of a hill — in fact, it’s just the type of rock one can imagine flattening a certain luckless cartoon coyote!
Roadrunners & coyotes
Published in the May 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)