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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Four Corners Area of the United States

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.

Monument Valley

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.

Painted Desert

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 CaƱon 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.


  1. Kristy, I think the desert is so beautiful in its own way. These are some magnificent pictures you shared with us. And I really enjoyed your story about Jack and Hannah. Kept me turning the pages!

    1. Cheryl,
      It really is a beautiful area in its own stark way. The Crow and the Coyote is a favorite of mine that I wrote. Am so glad it found a home here at PRP!

  2. Beautiful pictures, Kristy. One of my favorite pictures of my youngest son is him straddling all four states at four corners, hands in two states, feet in the other two. The more often I visit the region, the better l like it.

    Loved the book, by the way. Best wishes on its sale as a single.

    Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott

    1. Robyn,
      Straddling the four states is definitely a bucket list item. I love the region as well. Every year we drive through it at Christmas on our way to ski in Colorado. We know all the best gas station stops, and there aren't too many once you get up there. Thanks for your kind words about the book!!

  3. Your pictures took me back to the time I visited the area. Beautiful! Thanks for posting this. Added your book to my Kindle. Sounds like my kind of story.

    1. Hello Agnes!
      So glad to rekindle a fond memory. I do hope you enjoy the story. Hugs!

  4. Some amazing vistas and history in the four corners region, and the Cliff Dwellings are that far away either. Loved the photos and history you included with each. Thanks and loved the story. Doris

  5. I visited the Four Corners in 2005. There was a small bit part about it in the new Vacation movie. I didn't see anything there like they showed in the movie. I envy your life...always on the go. Congratulations on the single sale of your story. It sounds like my kind of book. Also, I love the cover. The character Jack Boggs is smoking hot. :).

    1. Barb,
      We just watched the new Vacation movie and you're right. The scenery was off. But it was still a hilarious (and raunchy) movie. Thanks for the well wishes. I do appreciate it. And Jack Boggs is a keeper. :-)

  6. Kristy,

    I love your pictures, particularly since I've never been to the Four Corners area. Like the Grand Canyon, Four Corners and Mesa Verde National Park are places I'd like to visit someday.

    On the topic of Canyon de Chelly, have you read the young adult novella, "Sing Down the Moon" by Scott O'Dell (published 1970)? He tells the story of the "Long Walk" through the eyes of a young Navajo girl whose home was Canyon de Chelly.

    It's well worth reading. This was one of my standard stories to include in junior high English back in my teaching days.

    1. Hi Kaye,
      No, I haven't read that book. I'll have to pick it up. Thanks!

  7. Wonderful blog, Kristy, Amazingly, I first hear of Four Corners on the TV series, Searching for Big Foot. LOL A very interesting place.