If you’re up for a fun family adventure in Mesa Verde Country that no other attraction in the US offers, plan to take a trip out to Four Corners Monument. Just about 44 miles due south from Cortez, Four Corners Monument lets you stand in four states all at once (with a little manuevering – like crouching on all fours). The monument marks the spot where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico touch, and it’s the only place like it in the entire USA. Besides the chance to get pictures of you and each of your family members occupying a different state – together – there are also many vendors on the site year-round, selling Navajo and Ute tribal arts and crafts, as well as plenty of food trucks serving local Navajo and Ute Tribal cuisine.
Four Corners Monument is isolated, however, so plan ahead for a safe, fun-filled visit. There is no running water at the site, so plan to bring plenty of bottled water with you – since you’ll be out in the arid desert climate for a while, you’ll want to be sure to keep yourself and the rest of the family well hydrated. And, if local food like Navajo Burgers and Tacos (made with Navajo fry bread rather than shells or buns), or other Ute Tribal Cuisine, plan to bring a picnic lunch – there are plenty of picnic tables available around the monument.
And, while the fun of the Four Corners Monument is certainly unique, it’s the drive through the beautiful desert that makes this day trip truly a pleasure. As you leave Cortez and drive south to the Four Corners, you’ll see endless pumpkin-colored sandstone and rock formations, dotted with sagebrush, pinion and juniper trees, beneath a stunning blue sky. The landscape makes it easy to imagine Ancestral Puebloans traveling similar paths thousands of years ago, to eventually settle in any of the hundreds of cliff dwellings and pueblos in and around Mesa Verde Country. In order to really take in the Four Corners experience, make sure you book lodging in Cortez, Dolores or Mancos to serve as your base camp for this fantastic day trip, so you can relax and prepare to take in another day in Mesa Verde Country.