Four Corners Monument: A Site Where Four States Meet, and Not Much Else Happens

ARIZONA/UTAH/COLORADO/NEW MEXICO- Driving south along US-191 out of Utah on my way to the Grand Canyon, I crossed the nondescript border into Arizona. Completely unmarked, you’d never know that you crossed from one state into another: one mountainously arid desert landscape blends into another mountainously arid desert landscape. 

 Four Corners Monument, the intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona

Four Corners Monument, the intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona

 

Reaching the junction of US-160, I was initially planning on heading west, making a right turn and making a beeline for the Grand Canyon, about 2-3 hours from where I sat. But the green sign in front of me told me that if I make a left turn, I'd reach the Four Corners Monument...in only 32 miles. Four Corners was a place that had been on my bucket list for some time—for no reason at all, I've wanted to lay spread eagle, with a limb in each state. I figured what the hell—it’s just me that I have to plan for, and I made a left.

 

Getting out on the side of the road to relieve myself, I was shocked when a strong gust of wind slammed the door shut behind me. Situated high on the Colorado Plateau, the Four Corners area is a confluence of weather systems, stabilizing in this region and bringing precipitation to the middle of the country. It might look like a desert, but it's still 5,000 feet above sea level. Weather is always unpredictable at altitude.

 

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Pulling up to the only spot in the United States where four states converge, I realized that this is not a federally administered area; the Navajo Nation, a subset of an Indian Tribe, administers Four Corners Monument. The land is not U.S. property—it is on the Navajo Reservation. It’s relatively nondescript; there is a plaza of sorts guarded by four separate market stalls, one in each state, selling Native American artifacts and trinkets. In the center, there is a plaque indicating the point where four states meet, and pointing to the corners of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Looking off into the distance, there is really nothing except high mountains, rock formations, deserts brush, storms in Colorado, and sunshine in Arizona. There are six distinct flags—the US flag, each state flag, the Ute flag, and the Navajo Flag.

 

There’s really not much to see here. Of note are signs dotting the landscape that it is illegal and disrespectful to the Navajo to spread cremated ashes on their lands. After taking a few quick pictures, and, of course, laying spread eagle in the middle of the four states, it was time to go. I got back in my car, and left. Happy, with how I spent two hours of my day, but reticent to send anyone else to this remote corner of the country to do the same.