Monument Valley to Four Corners

Looking back on Monument Valley from I-163.

After spending some time in Monument Valley, we were headed onto the next part of our trip: The Four Corners Monument, which is the spot where the borders of the 4 states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet.

The drive from Monument Valley, Utah, to the Four Corners Monument is approximately 1.5 hours. You have a few different options on driving there. The route that we took and is written about here, travels Northeast on I-163 through Mexican Hat and Bluff, Utah, then Southeast on Route 162 into Colorado and finally on I-160 to the Four Corners.


*This map may have the shorter route highlighted. We took the northern route through the state of Utah.
 

 

Monument Valley

We started our drive leaving Monument Valley behind. There are still plenty of spots to pull over and take photos, and some road side stands where the Navajo are selling their crafts.

 

Seeing the Monuments from the road gave a different view than what we saw in the park.

 

Leaving Monument Valley on I-163 North.

 

Saying goodbye to the monuments as we headed out of the valley.

 

If you’re on I-163 going in either direction, you have to stop here to get your picture taken next to this beautiful backdrop! It’s around the spot where Forest Gump was in the famous movie!

 

Looking back on Monument Valley from I-163.

 

 

Mexican Hat, Utah

A small town with a couple cafes and restaurants, and a few places to stay. The neat thing to watch for passing through here is the “Mexican Hat”. A stone formation that looks like a big Mexican sombrero hat! It’s a flat red rock balanced on another smaller one that will be off to your right if you’re heading north. It’s a little bit past the town so keep an eye open for it. You’ll know it when you see it!

Side Trips:

Goosenecks State Park – This park is a short ways away from Mexican hat. If you’re going to be in the area a few days it may be worth a visit if you’d like to see great views of the San Juan River below. The “Goosenecks” refer to the narrow cliffs that appear as the river meanders back and forth. There is a small $5 fee to enter the park as of 2017.

Valley of the Gods – Another place you can stop at, or more or less drive through. There’s a 17 mile unpaved road that takes you through a bunch of monuments(sounds just like Monument Valley, right?). I didn’t get to see it, but would have loved to stop if we had more time. It’s located on lands taken care of by the Bureau of Land Management. You can stop and take pictures, hike, bike, camp, etc.. There are no fees!

 

Crossing the San Juan River into Mexican Hat, Utah

 

It’s the Mexican Hat!

 

Heading northeast towards Bluff, Utah

 

I’m just so amazed by all the cool formations out there! Look at those wavy hills!

 

There was this neat notch in the cliff face for the road to go in as we headed towards Bluff. The Red sandstone cliff was right there, so close.

 

 

Bluff, Utah

The next small town you’ll come across is Bluff. You can’t miss it, it’ll be the town with a lot of neat looking stone cliffs, or bluffs, right up next to it. There are some restaurants and cafes, a gas station…although I can’t vouch for any of them as when we were driving through the café we stopped at was closed, as was the gas station. But according to their website they are there, along with some places to stay overnight. There’s also a historic section with a free museum.

The town itself was occupied by Ancestral Puebloans since around 650 AD. In the more recent past a group of Mormon missionaries established themselves there in the late 1800’s.

 

The big bluffs that give the town it’s name and make it unique.

 

Just look at all the cool rock formations here! No wonder people settled in such a neat looking place.

 

On the road leaving town the bluffs continued for a while.

 

Southeastern Utah on route 162

 

Montezuma Creek

This is one of the last small towns you’ll pass through, and is located on the Navajo Reservation. It’s got a lot more vegetation than the surrounding areas, and it’s right next to the San Juan River. Oil was found here in the 1950’s and you’ll notice a few rigs as you drive by.

Side Trip:

Hovenweep National Monument – Another place I didn’t have time to see but figured I’d should mention. If you’d like to go on another detour trip, you’ll see signs for Hovenweep as you pass through, it’s about 20 miles northeast of Montezuma Creek. There are ruins from the Ancestral Puebloans who used to live in the area with a lot of historical information, even a visitor’s center. So if you’re interested I’d plan a few hours to take it all in.

 

San Juan River Valley around Montezuma Creek

 

You can see the San Juan river on the right of the image. It was quite close to the town and there was more vegetation in the area because of it.

 

Beautiful Painted Desert formations

 

Entering Colorado

As we entered Southwest Colorado, the beautiful southern Rocky Mountains came into view along with sweeping plains of grass for miles.

The southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado

 

Nearing the Four Corners!

 

We took a few steps into New Mexico!

 

 

Four Corners Monument Entrance

And that was it, we made it! I know the entrance doesn’t look that impressive. But if you ask my opinion, it was worth it getting to stand in such a neat geographical location as the Four Corners!

The drive itself was easy, barely any traffic on the road in October when we went, and was really enjoyable with lots of different scenery to take in.

Now onto seeing the Four Corners!

 

If you’d like to see more pictures of the drive, check out my much bigger photo album on Flickr!

 


 

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