Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Four Corners Monument!

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     Four Corners Monument ~ New Mexico, Utah, Colorado & Arizona!
     While working at the Grand Canyon this year, I had plenty of opportunities to visit travel destinations in the Navaho Nation.  Most of my coworkers at the Grand Canyon were Hopi, Apache and Navaho tribe members.  Working with these people led to many friendships and good conversations.  When I mentioned that I publish Southwestern travel articles, my friends at the Grand Canyon always had plenty of good suggestions for interesting destinations on the reservation, which covers a vast territory in Eastern Arizona and New Mexico.  Needless to say, I have plenty of Navaho Nation travel material to write about and The Four Corners Monument is a good place to start!      
     The Navaho Nation is a sovereign territory and it should be respected as such.  There are many customs that a tourist should be aware of.  No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the reservation.  Littering or defacing the land can be relegated as being a high crime by the tribal police.  There are some sacred sites and old communities that allow no picture taking without permission.  The entire reservation is in the Mountain Time Zone, not the Arizona Time Zone, so be prepared to adjust your clock.  Tipping or making a purchase out of gratitude is expected in many tourism areas, especially if services were provided.  Best of all, there are no taxes, so the tourist dollar goes a little farther.  
     By following Desert View Drive (State Road 64) out of the National Park, the Navaho Nation begins just east of the Grand Canyon.  The Cameron Trading Post is located near the intersection of Arizona SR 64 and U.S. Highway 89.  Travelers can find plenty of Navaho Tourism information at the Cameron Trading Post and the restaurant serves up some really good food.  Cameron is also a good place to top off the fuel tank, because it can be over 75 miles between gas stations in the Navaho Nation.  
     U.S. 89 runs north toward Tuba City and this is where U.S. 160 can be found, which is the road that runs to the Four Corners Monument.  Nearly every major city in the territory is located along U.S. 160, so there are dining, shopping, motel accommodation and cultural destinations along the way.
     The landscape along U.S. 160 from Tuba City to Four Corners Monument is breathtaking.  Near Kayenta, the towering rock formations of Monument Valley can be seen.  A little further east, the roads runs through vast tracts of the high plains and mesas, as the Rocky Mountains come into view.  Teec Nos Pos is a little town near the border of New Mexico, where U.S. 160 heads north toward Colorado and the Four Corners Monument signage is easy to see.
     The Four Corners Monument access road actually is in New Mexico.  This is a Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department fee area.  The price of admission is a bargain and the income generated helps to fund construction of new facilities at this site, which are underway at this time.  
     Once the car is parked and the passengers step out to take a look around, it is then that the full effect of the majestic scenery can be fathomed.  The Four Corners Monument offers unobstructed panoramic views of the landscape for hundreds of miles.  The snow capped Rocky Mountains and even the towering Shiprock landmark can be seen in the distance.  This is truly a place where eagles fly!
    The Four Corners Monument Marker is set in an amphitheater surrounded by flags representing the Native American Tribes along with the State Flags of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  A veranda with Navaho artisan shops also surrounds the Four Corners Marker.  There are many nifty items for sale and unique hand crafted works of tribal art too.  I got a nice looking hand carved onyx scorpion memento while I was there.    
     There always seems to be a cool mountain breeze in this serene wilderness area and that inspires folks to relax and lounge about.  This is a great place for a social gathering or a picnic and local native snack food is available at concession stands.  For those who want to spend some time in this area, campsites are located by the San Juan River, just a little ways down the road in Colorado.  
    The Four Corners Marker is where four big western states meet.  Visitors can literally be in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah all at one time.  This creates a unique picture taking opportunity!  Many folks pose for the picture by planting their feet in two states, then putting their hands in each of the remaining two states, with their belly arched over the X mark on the ground.  There are many more popular poses and those with selfie sticks really have a way of hogging the show.  Watching all the picture taking that is going on at the Four Corners Marker is kind of entertaining in itself.  The amphitheater shaped monument area guarantees that those who pose for a picture will have an audience at Four Corners! 
     The Four Corners Monument is a good reference point when traveling in this region of the Southwest.  Having a good sense of direction will save many miles of backtracking, because road signs tend to be few and far between.  No matter which direction one goes when leaving Four Corners, there is plenty to see and experience close by.  Chinle, Shiprock, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Hovenweep, Ute Mountain and the Canyon Of The Ancients are all within the Four Corners region.  
     Taking a drive to the Four Corners Monument is well worth recommending for visitors of the Southwest.  The scenery alone makes this trip worth chalking up on the lifetime travel destination list.  The Four Corners Monument is not only a place where four states meet, it is a state of mind.  This is a nice place to learn a little bit from some friendly cultural exchange, while enjoying what Navaho Tourism has to offer.                                          

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