While Four Corners Monument, where the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona intersect at one point, was not originally on our itinerary for our Southwest road trip, at the last minute we changed our plans and included it, since it really wasn't far off our planned route.
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The night before we stayed in the small town of Bluff, Utah. Bluff is about an hour away from Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and from Bluff it's roughly 50 miles to Four Corners. There are two routes to get there from this town. We chose the one recommended by locals in Bluff, which was to head out on 162 which goes down into the southwest corner of Colorado (turns in Hwy. 41) then crosses over into New Mexico. Hop on Hwy. 160 and head south, crossing over into Arizona and toward Teec Nos Pos. The monument is well marked and impossible to miss, as it's in the middle of nowhere.
From Four Corners it takes roughly an hour to get over to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
The monument is open from 7 am to 8 pm during the summer (May 1 to September 30.) The rest of the year the hours of operation are from 8 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day. The entrance fee is $3 per person, with children 6 and under, free.
The only facilities are some porta-potty style toilets. No food or drinks are sold here. There are picnic tables, so you can bring in your own food.
The main attraction of the monument is, of course, the brass geographical marker, in the middle of a granite circle, which is surrounded by the a circle of flags: the state flags of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, flags of the Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the flag of the United States of America. Everyone wants to get their picture taken, as they straddle the marker with their hands and feet in each one of the states. When we arrived around 10 am, a bus load of German tourists had already arrived and we had to wait patiently. I was quite surprised to see them there as I actually thought that this sort of monument would not be of interest to anyone other than Americans. But apparently it is on the overseas visitors' tour bus itinerary.
There is some controversy surrounding the monument, on whether or not it really is the exact survey point of the true Four Corners. I'm not going to get into that as that's something geographers and cartographers can hash out. But you can read this press release if you're interested: http://navajonationparks.org/pr/pr_4Cmarker.htm.
If you have the time (we didn't) you might want to do a short hike up to Ute Mountain Lookout Butte. It's about .3 mile to the top.
Other than that, there's really not anything else to do. Local Navajo sell souvenirs and hand-made items there, but it's the same sort of stuff we saw in Monument Valley (which has a nice gift shop and visitor's center.) However, if this is your only stop on Navajo land, I encourage to check out the items for sale, as they are reasonably priced and make nice keepsakes of your trip.
Four Corners Monument is admittedly not much to see. The scenery here is not spectacular like Monument Valley. It's all about getting your picture. I'm glad I went here and got my shot (and I didn't look too terribly bad, unlike the big bosomed German woman who gave everyone an eyeful.) So I'll go with 3 stars and a yes recommendation.
This is a contribution to Jennifer's geography write-off
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