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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 in a wide arch 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 as I mentioned above.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
As we entered Southwest Colorado, the beautiful southern Rocky Mountains came into view along with sweeping plains of grass for miles.
And that was it, the whole 1.5 hour drive from Monument Valley to the Four Corners with some side trips you can take!
I know the entrance to the Four Corners doesn’t look that impressive, but in my opinion it was so worth it to get to stand in such a neat geographical location! Plus 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 time to get out of the car and see what a visit to the Four Corners is like!
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