Road trips around Four Corners

by Patty Templeton

Hey all you cool cats and road dogs, got your summer planned out? Does it include a road trip? If it doesn’t, WHY THE HELL NOT? The Four Corners is fulla roadside wonders, odd Americana, cool fests, and historic locales. As Bradbury said, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world.” Here’s a mix of adventures for your backpacking and blacktop trips:

Go here and nowhere elseBoulderGet the car in gear and get yer ass to Boulder – but time it right and get more out of your trip. On Saturday, Aug. 19, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., North Boulder Park will be flooded with dozens of Boulder County brewers and live music for the 4th Annual Boulder Craft Beer Festival.

Trek to Boulder for the fest, then stay all weekend to soak in everything else, like the Pearl Street Mall, the Boulder Tea House, the Fiske Planetarium, or the Shelby American [car] Collection. You can also tour the Celestial Seasonings tea plant or visit Avery Brewing Company.

Chaffee CountyRelaxacation meets adventure time for the weekend win. Chaffee County is chock fulla hot springs you haven’t been to, plus whitewater rafting. After a morning of river battling in Browns Canyon National Monument, soak the rest of the day in a hot spring bubbling out 140-degree joy. The most popular hot springs to bliss out in are Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn and Spa, or Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.

Ramble around outside of a resort setting to The Bungled Jungle in Salida for eccentric art or get your whiskey-a-go-going at Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista (and don’t forget the Eddyline Brewery).

Jerome, ArizonaJerome is on a dusty hill that looks like a horror movie setting – and indie horror movies have been filmed there. Set up at the Ghost City Inn, a fab bed and breakfast, and explore the town for a lazy, small-town weekend.

Must-sees while you are in walking through the cute galleries and shops are Caduceus Cellars (the winery owned by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan), Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town, and the Douglas Mansion.

Stop by on the way somewhere elseColoradoBuffalo Bill’s Museum and Grave, GoldenBuffalo Bill, an Army scout and famed American showman who created Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, was buried in Golden. About 30 minutes west of Denver, you can see the grave of Buffalo Bill, in addition to a $5 museum dedicated to the mustachioed legend.


Movie Manor in Monte VistaDrive-in movie theaters still exist. In fact, in 1955, Movie Manor, currently a Best Western motel, was built so that each room had a giant picture window facing the Star Drive-in. Instead of driving up to the screen, you can watch from your room with a turn of the sound dial. Only two movies are shown, so make sure to peruse the Facebook schedule or call ahead.


Alfred Packer Cannibal Site, Lake CityAlfred Packer ate people. In 1874, Packer and five other men tried to cross Colorado high country during peak winter. Only Packer made it back alive. You can visit the Hinsdale County Museum, and for five bucks, they’ll direct you to the famed cannibal site on Highway 149, 2.5 miles south of the Lake City mini golf course.


Colorado Renaissance Festival, LarkspurPut on your chain mail bikini, cinch up that corset, tip your pirate hat, slip into tall boots, and prep ye olde English accent. The Colorado Renaissance Festival is open every Saturday and Sunday, June through July. Fill a day with jugglers, mead, firespitters, bellydancers, kitschy shops, and enormous turkey legs.


New MexicoAliens in RoswellSweet baby alien Moses, stop in the full-tilt WTF Roswell, the site of a supposed UFO crash in 1947. The historic district is packed with sci-fi shops, the International UFO Museum and Research Center is worth the $5, the Roswell Museum and Art Center is full of high-art, and Big D’s Downtown Dive makes a mean green chile cheesesteak.


Carlsbad Caverns National Park, CarlsbadEnter the alien-looking world of Carlsbad Caverns. Don’t think you’ll be impressed by a cave? Think again: Bats at twilight, cave crickets all the time, and natural wonders abound for only $10. Will Rogers called it, “The Grand Canyon with a roof over it.”


National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, AlbuquerqueThe Atomic Age began after the detonation of the first nuclear bomb, Trinity, in 1945. This $12 museum is the kinda place that can even make folks who don’t give an S about U.S. history or science slow their stroll while browsing.


Bonus: Twice a year, the Army allows the public to see the Trinity blast site. October 7 is the next date.


Tinkertown Museum, Sandia ParkRoss Ward carved and collected for over 40 years, and yowza, Tinkertown Museum was birthed. About 20 minutes outside of Albuquerque, folk art meets DIY mentality in this museum full of Americana. Can’t beat the $3.75 entry fee.


UtahHole N’ the Rock House, MoabAlbert Christensen started carving his cavernous rock house in the 1940s. When he died in the late ’50s, his wife, Gladys, stayed in the house and ran a diner from it. It only takes about 15 minutes for a $6.50 tour of the house, but it is an ingenious, oddball exercise in architecture and Americana.


The Four CornersIt will take you all of two minutes to take a picture standing in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona at the exact same time – unless it is midday and there are a crap-ton of tourists. The Four Corners Monument isn’t the jazziest, but it is a cute keepsake to have.


Shit everyone knows about and still hasn’t been to, yetColoradoMesa Verde National ParkFor $7 to $20 bucks, depending on time of year, you get to see the ancestral homes of Pueblo people built and lived in up until AD 1300. We’re talking the structured remains of a society from over 700 years ago. The Long House and Balcony House are the most popular places to visit.

Consider getting a guided tour to really live the history. There are Cliff Palace Twilight Tours for only $20!


ArizonaThe Grand CanyonGo ahead and think that the Grand Canyon is just a bigass hole in the ground – then go visit and watch the Martian landscape emerge as twilight shadows change the landscape by the minute. Besides majestic views that could impress even your biggest a-hole of a road trip buddy, the Grand Canyon has river rafting trips, back country camping, hardcore canyon hikes, is a photographer’s heaven, has a skywalk, mule tours, tons of museums, and is home to a handful of the largest and most endangered bird in North America, the California Condor.


New MexicoMeow Wolf, Santa FeUpon request, George R. R. Martin funded artists to create a permanent art installation, Meow Wolf and the House of Eternal Return. It’s a 20,000-square-foot art party that you know you want to rock out at. You need at least two hours to walk around and $18 bucks to get to this tripped out, hella gorgeousness.


Go to to check out our Summer Food Fest Guide and our Four Corners’ Music and Art Festival Guide. Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer


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