The unique Four Corners area represents more than the connection point of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. While it's true that Four Corners is the only place in the U.S. where four states meet at one geographic point, the monument is at the physical heart of a greater Four Corners region that has a much deeper history. A tourism destination by itself or a perfect addition to Arches and Canyonlands itineraries, Four Corners is a spiritual journal into sweeping landscapes with profound human and geologic history.
The Four Corners area encapsulates a rich indigenous heritage in one of America's most remote landscapes. Evidence of Ancestral Puebloan cultures in this area have been dated to earlier than 1200 A.D. Radiating out from the monument, explore astonishing settlements like Hovenweep National Monument, whose ruins are perched on edges of shallow cliffs, balanced over boulder heaps, or guarding seeps. You will find yourself marveling at both the construction and setting of these archaeological remnants. These were rugged and resourceful people living in rugged lands that are defined by millions of years of dramatic uplift, the building of mountains and profound erosion unique to the sandstone geology of the Colorado Plateau. This is a place where monumental landforms connect with the sky, and vast fields of stars fill the night.
The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway paints a sunburst-shaped journey across the land in an attempt to see it all.
For many, the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway starts in Blanding, home to a large display of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and the 1,000-year-old kiva at Edge of the Cedars State Park. Edge of the Cedars is an archaeological gem that only sets the stage for the journey ahead. Utah’s Canyon Country, San Juan County, bills itself as “The World’s Greatest Outdoor Museum.” It is a place of endless exploration, virtually all of which access historically significant sites. State Route 95 between Blanding and Natural Bridges National Monument, for example, offers several intriguing stops including Canyon Indian Ruin's interpretive display and trails or the Butler Wash cliff dwelling on Comb Ridge.
Continue on the road to see the Cedar Mesa sandstone monoliths of the Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Parks. Return in January for the great events and arts fair accompanying the Bluff International Balloon Festival.
Four Corners Monument
Following government surveys that revealed a terminus of the Four Corners states' boundaries joining in one place, surveyors erected the original Four Corners Monument in 1912 as a simple cement pad. In 1992, the monument evolved to a copper disc within a granite surface and 2010 brought new improvements. Two intersecting lines through the center of this disc mark the boundaries, accompanied by the seal of each of the Four Corners states. The Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department administers the Four Corners. Around the monument, Native American artisans and craftsman sell their handmade jewelry, crafts and traditional foods from numerous booths and shops. The monument's visitor venter features information about the native cultures of the region.
Gateways to Four Corners
There are a number of small towns in the Four Corners area. Visits to Four Corners that include stops at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, even Lake Powell, can explore restaurants as well as hotels, motels and other lodging options in Monument Valley, Mexican Hat and Bluff, or heading north along U.S. 191 toward Blanding, Monticello and Moab. Four Corners and southeastern Utah destinations are excellent additions to itineraries featuring Mesa Verda National Park in neighboring Colorado.
Four Corners Weather
At roughly 5,000 feet above sea level, the Four Corners area exhibits weather consistent with the high-desert plateau of southeastern Utah. Summer months approach 100 F during the day, which makes mornings and evenings better for exploration. Spring and fall are ideal seasons for outdoor recreation and sightseeing in the Four Corners region while the cooler temperatures and periodic dustings of snow ensure winter visits to the area will be visually stunning and mostly free of tourist traffic. Monticello sits above 7,000 feet, providing a high-elevation summer retreat for golf, heritage museum and outdoor recreation. No matter the season, carry plenty of water and a layer or jacket should evenings get cool or afternoon thunderstorms catch you.
Four Corners Monument is only accessible by car or tour bus. It can be reached from U.S. 191 from just west of Bluff, Utah, through the Navajo Nation, to U.S. 160, or also from Bluff on S.R. 162 into Colorado to 160.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
With a rich Navajo cultural legacy, ancient, Clovis-era, early human, archeological sites and some of the most iconic landscapes in the American West, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and surrounding San Juan county bring together scenic beauty and hundreds of years of human history into an unforgettable travel destination. Monument Valley is the crown jewel in the area with jeep tours driving to Navajo hogans and the picture-worthy sandstone formations made famous in numerous John Wayne and John Ford westerns.
Glen Canyon Recreation Area and Lake Powell
Sun-drenched boating and an expansive lake ringed with towering cliffs and a labyrinth of side canyons, a visit to Glen Canyon usually involves water skiing, jet skiing or relaxing in a houseboat on Lake Powell, soaking in the otherworldly scenery.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers is home to many different types of travel experiences, from sublime solitude in the more remote stretches of the park to moderate hikes through the Needles district, or the opportunity to create your own version of one of the West's most photographed landforms, Mesa Arch
Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges is home to three expansive rock arches and the first International Dark Sky Park in the world. Though less accessible than Utah’s national parks, it is just as grand. At 6,500-feet in elevation atop the massive Cedar Mesa the park is a little cooler in the heat of summer than other parks. Abundant hiking, stargazing and canyoneering make this a quiet haven for those looking to explore a little off the beaten path.
Four Corners Area