Is Four Corners on your bucket list? My husband had especially wanted to visit this special spot for a long time and we made it happen on our Mesa Verde National Park trip!
Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where you can stand in four states at the same time. It is the spot where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. Thousands of visitors travel to this remote monument each year to say they have been there and done that. Here is what we learned when we visited Four Corners Monument during Fall Break.
It is in the right place
A few years ago, it was reported in the media that the spot where the four states meet is actually 2.5 miles west of the monument. What!? Who wants to visit Four Corners if it isn't really Four Corners?
I looked into this to find that the original surveyor, using the best tools available in 1868, missed where the spot should have been by about 1800 feet, not 2.5 miles. The marker was placed and accepted by the U.S. Congress, and from that time forward, the marker has been the legal divider between the four states. So, it doesn't matter where it should have been, because the marker is legally the exact spot where the four states meet today.
If you'd like to read more about this, check out this kid-friendly article from the Washington Post and a detailed explanation from the National Geodetic Survey, whose report was the one that was misunderstood and misreported in the first place.
It is in the middle of nowhere
That's not exactly true, because being in four states at once is an impressive number of somewheres. However, fuel, food and lodging are limited within 30+ miles of the monument. There is no running water at Four Corners Monument. You may find vendors selling food and drinks at the monument, but they were not open during our visit.
Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your car, cash, food and drinks, hand sanitizer and extras of whatever else you will need for your trip to Four Corners. The nearest convenience station is about 6 miles away, in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona.
It is owned by the Navajo Nation
The flags of the Navajo and Ute Nations fly side by side with the flags of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona at Four Corners. The Navajo Nation owns these parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The Utes own the southwest corner of Colorado.
Expect to wait your turn
Nearly everyone who visits Four Corners Monument wants to take a photo of themselves standing in all four states at once. The other visitors were considerate about taking turns on the monument and allowing us to get good photos and we tried to do the same for them.
We visited late in the afternoon on a Wednesday in October. I was surprised to find more than half a dozen cars in the parking lot, considering how remote this place is and how few cars we saw on the road. A steady stream of visitors came and went during our visit.
Save time for shopping
Navajo vendors occupy permanent booths that surround the monument. Nearly all of them sell jewelry and other Navajo crafts. Some of them are the artisans and can tell you all about the items. Some of them accept credit cards.
My daughter has wanted a dream catcher for a while, but has always found them to be too expensive for her small allowance in national park gift shops. She was able to choose from a large selection of dream catchers at Four Corners, in a variety of colors, sizes and prices. She settled on a small pink one for $5. She reports having good dreams every night in the week since she bought it.
Fry bread and other refreshments may also be for sale during your visit. Those booths were not operating during our visit, but it looked like they had been earlier in the day.
We do recommend visiting Four Corners Monument if you have the chance. It's an easy side trip from Mesa Verde National Park. It would also be a good side trip from Arches or Canyonlands National Parks.
Good to Know
Where: Just off of U.S. Highway 160, about 6 miles north of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona.
- October 1 to March 31: 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m.
- April 1 to April 30: 8 a.m.-5:45 p.m.
- May 1 to Thursday of Memorial Weekend: 8 a.m.-6:45 p.m.
- Friday of Memorial Weekend to Aug 15: 8 a.m.-7:45 p.m.
- Aug 16 to Sept 30: 8 a.m.-6:45p.m.
How Much: $5 per person over the age of 6. Ages 6 and younger are free. At the time of our visit, it was cash only. I've been told that credit cards are now accepted.
How Long: 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Amenities: Primitive toilets and picnic tables. Fry bread and souvenirs may be available from vendors.