The Four Corners Monument is the only place in the USA where you can stand in four states at the same time. Find out what are the Four Corners states and why its worth a visit.
What are the Four Corner States?
In case you weren’t sure, the Four Corner states are:
- New Mexico
Although the 4 territories joined the USA between 1876 and 1912, the boundaries that would later form the Four Corners started in 1850.
The 37th parallel north was set as the border between the Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory by the Compromise of 1850. The other key boundary was created in 1861, when part of the Utah Territory was taken to form a new Colorado Territory.
The southern border remained the 37th parallel north, while the new border between the Utah and Colorado Territories became the 32nd meridian west from Washington.
In 1863, the 32nd meridian west from Washington was used to divide the New Mexico and Arizona Territories, thus creating the Four Corners, USA.
Four Corners Controversy
The surveys marking the future states boundaries were conducted between 1868 to 1901 by the General Land Office. However there were numerous inaccuracies from the 37th parallel north and 32nd meridian from Washington. The technology they used at the time was not as accurate as our methods today.
This has led to argument over the location of the Four Corners Monument and state boundaries. In 1925, the Supreme Court ruled that the initial survey markers are the official borders despite not following the intended parallel and meridian lines.
The next controversy occurred when the media stated the Four Corners Monument was 2.5 miles west of the 32nd meridian west. Although they are correct that it is 2.5 miles west of the 32nd Prime Meridian, they forgot that the Washington meridian was used until 1912 which explains the difference.
In reality, the Four Corners marker is east of the true 37th parallel north and 32nd meridian west from Washington intersection. However, the current survey marker a the Monument is the legal marker for all four states.
The Birth of the 4 Corners Monument
If you’re wondering ‘where is four corners?’ the technical answer is that it’s on Navajo land.
It started to become a tourist attraction in 1962 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs poured a concrete pad with the state names and boundary lines around the brass survey marker.
The latest reconstruction was completed in 2010, with upgrades continuing to the bathrooms. Although people may assume this is a National Monument, it is owned and run by the Navajo.
Visiting Four Corners Monument
The 4 Corners Monument has become a remote highway attraction with a steady flow of visitors. The entrance fee is $5 per person.
If you need to rent a car, click here for great rates.
Inside there are stalls selling Navajo merchandise, food trucks, and portable toilets until the bathroom is finished. Future improvement hopefully includes a better parking lot as it was filled with mud upon our visit.
There is a central plaza with the respective state flags of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona flying high.
Check out the plagues describing the history of how each state was formed. Then wait in line to get a photo standing – or contorting your body – in all the Four Corners states at the same time.
The best time to visit is noon so you have less shadows from the surrounding handicap ramp rails, flags, and fellow visitors. The Four Corners Monument hours are 8 am to 4:45 pm daily.
Is It Worth it?
Sheena and I learned about the Four Corners Monument in our guide book while we were researching our New Mexico road trip.
Although Sheena was on the fence, she was glad I convinced her to visit since it is a unique attraction. A lot of reviews on TripAdvisor say not to go since it is out of the way and not worth the $5.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I feel the experience was worth the time and money if you’re in this part of the country. We had old fashioned fun taking pictures in all Four Corners states at the same time, it was like playing the real life version of Twister.
An excellent way to cap off the day is to drive into New Mexico and see the sun setting behind Shiprock.
Although New Mexico and the US are relatively safe places to travel in, medical costs are high so we always recommend purchasing travel insurance before any trip. Keep in mind that you’re pretty much out on your own at places like the Bisti Badlands too
For more details, check out our World Nomads review here.
Hotels near Four Corners
The closest hotels to the Four Corners Monument in New Mexico are in Farmington, which is 60 miles or a 1hr 10min drive away.
There are around 37 properties there, ranging in price from $35-115.
We stayed at Motel 6. We booked it on Expedia just before checking-in for $38 ($45.28 w/ tax). It’s located next to the main highway. The room was clean and the bathroom was huge but there were some shady characters in the parking lot.
Best Western and The Comfort Inn look like much nicer options if you have a larger budget.
Airbnb lists around 18 rentals from $20-130.
There are no hostels in Farmington though you could try staying with a local on Couchsurfing.
The nearest hotels in Colorado are in Cortez which is 39 miles or a 45min drive from the Four Corners.
There are around 18 hotels/motel ranging in price from $39 at Travelodge by Wyndham and $125 at Kelly Place Bed & Breakfast.
Airbnb lists around 5 homes from $40-93 but there are many other properties in the surrounding area.
There are no hostels in Cortez but there seems to be a few active hosts on Couchsurfing.
The closest Four Corners hotels in Utah are in Bluff, which is 48 miles or a 55min drive away.
They are: Mokee Motel ($45), Canyon Wren Bed & Breakfast ($93) Desert Rose Resort & Cabins ($129) and Bluff Garden ($129).
Airbnb lists around 5 rentals from $89-289.
There are no hostels or Couchsurfing hosts in Bluff.
The nearest properties in Arizona are in Kayenta which is 80 miles or a 1hr 10min drive from the Four Corners Monument.
They are: Wetherill Inn ($78) Kayenta Monument Valley Inn ($106) and Hampton Inn Kayenta ($110).
Airbnb lists 2 homes for $60-70.
There are no hostels but suprisingly there are a few Couchsurfing hosts in Kayenta.
Where to Next?
While in northwestern New Mexico, check out our related posts for an adventurous weekend:
- Free Camping and Hiking in El Morro National Monument
- Chaco Canyon Camping and What You Need to Know
- How to Get to Shiprock
- Bisti Banlands
- Aztec Ruins National Monument
Know Before You Go
Hours: 8 am to 4:45 pm
Fees: $5 per person
Duration: 30 minutes
Nearest Large City: Shiprock, NM at 40 minutes; Cortez, CO at 45 minutes by car
Best Time to Visit: Noon
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Visited in October 2018