Lightning strikes near Church Rock, New Mexico
© Tim Fitzharris/Minden Picture
Struck by Southwestern beauty
It's okay if this stormy shot stirs your spirit with holy awe: They call this wind-carved edifice Church Rock for a reason. Surrounded by an enchanting Southwestern landscape, it's a sight that almost invites you to get lost out here—and if you look at a map of these parts, you'll see that's not too hard.
We're in the 'checkerboard' region of western New Mexico, where patchwork borders separate sovereign Navajo Nation grounds and private land from that administered by an alphabet soup of federal, state, and local agencies. (For its part, Church Rock was the crown jewel of a state park before it was returned to the Navajo in 1989, while the city of Gallup now maintains the nearby parkland.) Maybe it's simpler to think in terms of a more ancient boundary line: The Great Continental Divide, marking the border between North America's Atlantic- and Pacific-destined waters, crosses Route 66 just east of the checkerboard.