By Kristy McCaffrey
Four Corners is a popular tourist destination in the southwestern U.S. Here, one can occupy Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado at once. Not to burst anyone's bubble, but tourists don't stand on the actual spot. The geographic coordinates lie inaccessible in the nearby rocky desert.
|My husband and I at Four Corners on New Year's Day|
a few years ago.
Within this expanse are four prominent landmarks: Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, the Painted Desert, and Shiprock.
Monument Valley is located on the Arizona-Utah border on the Colorado Plateau, and the Navajo have preserved the area as a vast tribal park. The iconic sandstone buttes and spires rising from the ground have become famous worldwide, due in part to filmmaker John Ford who featured the area in many western movies in the 1940's and 1950's.
Canyon de Chelly (pronounced de shay) National Monument is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. Rock art and other excavations reveal human habitation for at least 4,500 years, encompassing not just the Navajo but the ancient Anasazi as well. In the 18th century this became a major stronghold of the Navajo—the high canyon walls offered protection and the streams helped grow corn crops and peach trees. Today, Navajo still live here.
|Canyon de Chelly|
The Painted Desert, approximately 120 miles long and 60 miles wide, is composed of stratified layers of easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale. The layers of rock contain an abundance of iron and manganese, which cause the varied colors of the region. This area also includes the Petrified Forest National Park, a landscape frozen in time for more than 220 million years, revealing colorful petrified wood and animal fossils. How does wood become petrified? Long-ago floods carried timber onto a plain, then, over time, minerals in the water replaced the wood cells, filling the spaces with quartz and jasper crystals.
Located in northwestern New Mexico, Shiprock rises 1,583 feet on a desolate plain and is visible in all directions for many miles. It has great religious and historical significance to the Navajo people.
The Four Corners region is a vast and somewhat desolate location but rich in history and geology.
My short novella The Crow and the Coyote takes place in Canyon de Chelly.
In Arizona Territory, Hannah Dobbin travels through Cañon de Chelly, home to the Navajo, in search of a sorcerer who murdered her pa. Bounty hunter Jack Boggs is on the trail of a vile Mexican bandito, but with the shadows of Hallowtide descending, more dark magic is at hand than either of them know.