This past fall my husband and I visited the Nations of the Four Corners in Blanding for the first time. I’d been hearing about this place for a while, but really didn’t know much about it, but after a quick call to the Blanding Visitor Center, that confirmed that there ARE several miles of hiking trails there, we decided to head down to Blanding to check it out.
The most recent version of the popular, ‘Trails of the Ancients’ brochure includes a map for Nations of the Four Corners. I wish I had had a copy of this with me when I visited, because, as far as I saw, there aren’t any trail maps available at the trailhead. I DID, however, take a picture of the map at the trailhead… this is my husband’s and my trick for not buying maps… we just take a picture of the map then you can zoom in on whatever area you need to look at. It works great… as long as your camera battery doesn’t die… 🙂
The fact that there are so many interconnecting trails makes it a little difficult to keep track of where you’re at so if you’re planning to visit, I would recommend stopping at the Blanding Visitor Center or Edge of the Cedars State Park & Museum and picking up the ‘Trail of the Ancients’ brochure.
Nations of the Four Corners is made up of sites representing the different groups that contributed to the history of this area; Ute, Navajo, Hispanic, and Pioneer.
I think the Navajo Hogan site was my favorite. The day we went was fairly cool, but I can imagine that it would be a great break from the sun on a hot day!
The hiking trail was really nice- my husband and I both kept saying that we wish there was something like this in Monticello– a great hiking trail that has the feel of being out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s right on the edge of town. It seemed to be very well maintained, and like I was saying earlier, lots of interconnecting trails that allow you to make your hike any length you want.
We finally made it to the observation tower in the center of the area. The view was great from the top!
When I originally started writing this blog entry and was looking at the map in the Trails of the Ancients brochure, I noticed that there was an arch along one of the trails that I hadn’t noticed before we went. So we made another trip down there a few weeks later to check it out along with the Nations Natural Bridge near Westwater Ruin, which is actually connected to the Nations of the Four Corners by hiking trails that follow Westwater Canyon.
Prayer Arch is a little hard to see unless you get directly underneath or above it. But once you do, there’s no mistaking it- it’s definitely an arch!
After we finished at Prayer Arch, we drove about 5 minutes to the Westwater Canyon Ruin road. Just before reaching the end of the road where the ruins are located, we stopped at a small turnout with a sign marking the Nations Natural Bridge that’s directly across the canyon. Although you can see the bridge from the road and pull-out, it took us a while to find the trail to get to it. We parked at the sign for the bridge but the trail doesn’t actually start there, so I think that’s what threw us off. Once we found the trail though, it was a very quick and easy hike down one side of the canyon and up the other.
I was too scared to actually walk across the Bridge, but my husband wasn’t… It’s very wide and I’m sure it’s (fairly) safe, but I just couldn’t bring myself to to it!
Nations of the Four Corners is definitely worth the stop! It’s a great place for a quick hike, or you could make it into a 5+ mile hike if you start at the main site and hike all the way out to Westwater Ruin and Nations Natural Bridge.
Nations of the Four Corners: From Hwy 191 head west on 500 South until the road ends where it meets 700 West. You will see a parking area and a kiosk where the trailhead starts.
Westwater Ruin: On the south end of Blanding, turn west on Ruins Road. At the end of this road you will see Westwater Ruin. Just before the end of the road on the west side you will see a small pull-out and a sign marking the bridge.
Distance from Edge of the Cedars to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Blanding: 0 miles/0 km
- Monticello: 22 miles/35 km
- Bluff: 26 miles/42 km
- Mexican Hat: 52 miles/ 84 km
- La Sal: 65 miles/105 km
- Monument Valley: 73 miles/117 km
For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386
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