FOUR-CORNERED FUN

Enchant yourself with New Mexico’s history, culture and frybread.

Utah is The Beehive State. We’re always busy. Takin’ care of business. Gettin’ ‘er done.

Go kitty-corner across the border, and you arrive in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. It’s here you’ll discover a different mindset that encourages you to quit your running around and just sit back and enjoy the magic. Here’s how to have your own enchanting New Mexico getaway just over the border in the Four Corners area.

You’ll get to experience all four states of the four corners in one day by crossing briefly into Colorado before taking a right on U.S. Highway 160 to cross into New Mexico. Once into that state, you’ll take a brief two-mile drive on New Mexico State Highway 597 to arrive at Four Corners Tribal Park, also known as Four Corners Monument.

Why should you visit? Because where else are you going to get to stand in four states all at once? The site is part of the Navajo Nation system of parks and features a demonstration center with tribal artisans who also sell traditional crafts, jewelry and food. Make sure to hit an ATM on the way as the $5 per person entry fee is cash only.

Going to the Four Corners area and not getting Navajo fry bread is like going to Paris and not having a baguette. The best places to find fry bread are generally food carts or small side-of-the-road stands. A well-known and well-loved stop is Grandma’s Frybread Shack. located along Highway 597 in Four Corners Tribal Park. Rather than leaving a review on her Facebook page, Grandma hands you a marker and has you write it on the wall of her shack.


From Four Corners Monument, there are a number of ways to go to experience the area.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Nageezi is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Four Corners Tribal Park. You can still tour the large buildings left behind by the thousands of people who populated this settlement from 850-1250 A.D. The park can be explored through hiking and biking or by guided tour. Thanks to limiting the lighting in the area, Chaco has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and the Chaco Night Sky Program lets visitors check out the Chaco Observatory. The only lodging in the park is camping, with the towns of Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington all being a 90-minute drive away.

You can also just continue straight through on that 90-minute drive east to the tri-cities area.

In Bloomfield, Salmon Ruins Museum features a two-acre pueblo ruin dating to the 11th century. There is also a museum that includes rock art and the Heritage Park on site has replicas of various Native American housing styles as well as a sweatlodge.

Aztec is also home to Aztec Ruins National Monument, where you can explore a 900-year-old ancestral Pueblo Great House with over 400 rooms. The area around Aztec is home to more than 400 natural arches that can be hiked or biked in three regions. Find maps at
AztecNM.com/arches.

If history or hiking isn’t your thing, or you’re just looking to have some fun, check out live horse racing at Farmington’s Sunray Park & Casino with a 2018 schedule that runs every Friday-Monday starting April 20 and ending June 18.

Farmington is also the place to let out your inner caveman or cavewoman when you literally spend the night in a cave. Kokopelli’s Cave is a 1,650-square-foot cave 70 feet below ground and comes with a cascading waterfall shower, jacuzzi tub and full-stocked kitchen.

The town of Gallup sits 2½ hours from the tri-cities area, two hours south of Four Corners Tribal Park or two hours west of Chaco Cultural Park. This is a place where you can literally, “Get your kicks on Route 66,” which, as the song says, runs right through town. Route 66 is where you can check in at the historic El Rancho Hotel , which first opened in 1937. It’s known as the “home of the movie stars,” because it was where the likes of Betty Grable, John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart stayed while filming Hollywood Westerns in the area. You’ll also want to stop in the hotel’s 49er Lounge, a place where Errol Flynn once rode a horse in and ordered a drink. Today you don’t need a horse to go in and order a beer or margarita.

Gallup is also a town where you’ll find over 100 trading posts, galleries and shops, featuring works by local Native American artisans. While in town, check out the Navajo Code Talker Exhibit in the Chamber of Commerce building. The collection features memorabilia from World War II and tells the story of how Navajo knowledge and skill helped the American military.

Gallup is also home to amazing rock formations, and those who drive just a few miles out of town can find them on the Pyramid Rock Trail (3 miles round trip) or Church Rock Trail (2 miles round trip). Both trails also provide spectacular views from 7,000 feet above sea level.

New Mexico’s close, and its unique landscape and culture make it worthy of a roadtrip. Let it enchant you.

 

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