Day two’s original destination was to be the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. The drive is very scenic as we travel through a very pretty part of Colorado and cross the Continental Divide. From the Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde should take about four hours. After the day’s earlier excitement (written about in the previous post), we reassess our camping options and destination.
The campground within Mesa Verde National Park as well as all private campgrounds in the surrounding area are closed for the season. I locate a boondock spot for us just outside the National Park but all the information says the road is rough. Rough road and impending cold front with snow are enough to keep us moving west. As much as I am disappointed about not stopping at this highly anticipated location, I would be more disappointed getting unintentionally stuck in the backcountry.
We forego stop number two (Mesa Verde NP) and proceed directly to planned stop number three, but not without a famous stop along the way; the Four Corners. The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwest corner of Colorado, the northwest corner of New Mexico, the northeast corner of Arizona, and the southeast corner of Utah. It is named after the quadripoint where the boundaries of these four states meet. It is the only location of its kind in the United States and is administered by the Navajo Nation.
Although this is a popular tourist stop, it certainly is NOT worth a special trip. It is located in the middle of nowhere and offers nothing but a ground marker and the right to say, “I was in four states at the same time”. After fifteen minutes of photo ops, we’re back on the road heading toward the small town of Mexican Hat, Utah.
Al and I have always wanted to see Monument Valley; the scenic backdrop to many Western Films. After a little internet and map research, I find a place to park for the night; Gooseneck State Park, Utah. And it’s free! Our four-hour travel day turned into eight hours as we traveled from the Great Sand Dunes National Park to Mexican Hat, Utah. Eight hours filled with plenty of beautiful scenery and more excitement than we would have liked.
Gooseneck State Park, Utah, sits on a Mesa/Plateau high above the San Juan River. The Monument Valley rock formations can be seen in the far distance. The area consists of a parking lot, picnic tables, vault toilet, and amazing 360 degree views. Great place to spend the night.
In the morning we’ll drive SLOWLY through Monument Valley.