The Four Corners offers a variety of activities. From trains, gaming or visiting the Four Corners Monument, the following suggestions make for great day trips during your stay in Farmington.
Durango, CO lies just 45 miles north of Farmington on Hwy. 550. Spend the day browsing boutiques and souvenir shops on Main Street or take a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Call 888-TRAIN-07.
Seventy-five miles north of Farmington on Hwy. 160 is Mesa Verde National Park, known for its vast cliff dwelling sites. While passing through nearby Cortez, CO, don't miss the Mesa Verde Pottery Gallery Southwest, where you can observe Ute artisans painting the famous Mesa Verde pottery.
Towaoc, CO, 60 miles north of Farmington on Hwy. 491, is the capital of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation and the home of the Ute Mountain Casino and RV Park. Stop in to play slots, keno, or a game of blackjack or bingo, andenjoy dining at Kuchus Restaurant. Tribal Park tours of Anasazi cliff dwellings and ruins can be arranged by calling (970) 565-3751 ext. 330.
Travel 30 miles southeast on Hwy. 160 to the Four Corners Monument and stand in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado at once. After taking memorable pictures, shop for Native American arts, crafts and jewelry at the vendor booths which surround the monument. Cost is $3.00 per person.
While heading back to Farmington (60 miles southeast via Hwy. 160/Hwy. 491/Hwy. 64) you'll enter the scenic Navajo Reservation. Here are views of Shiprock Pinnacle, Chimney Rock and the Sleeping Ute Mountain.
Indian Country Circle
This suggested itinerary includes Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Chama, Farmington, Gallup and Grants. The itinerary can be adjusted to take from four to eight days, depending on activities in each community. This tour can start in either direction; Albuquerque west to Gallup and Grants, or Albuquerque north to Santa Fe.
There's lot's to see in this tour so give yourself ample time to explore!
Day 1 — Fly or drive into Albuquerque and visit historic Old Town, or visit numerous museums, attractions and Indian Pueblos in the surrounding area.
Day 2 — Santa Fe, only an hour's drive north of Albuquerque, offers visitors the unique historic Downtown Plaza, art galleries and museums.
Day 3 — An established artists' colony for years, Taos is rich in art and culture, and home to the Taos Pueblo Indians.
Day 4 — Travel west along scenic Hwy. 64 to the quaint mountain town of Chama and ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad through the Carson National Forest.
Day 5 — Continue west about 100 miles on Hwy. 64 to Farmington, the city the Navajos call Totah, "the meeting place of waters." For an introduction to the area, visit the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, which features several changing exhibits, visitor information and gift shop. Walk through downtown and browse for Native American arts and crafts at the many trading posts that have existed here since the area was first settled. Take U.S. Hwy. 516 east 14 miles to Aztec, NM, and tour the Aztec Ruins National Monument, a prehistoric pueblo more than 800 years old, which features the only fully-reconstructed Great Kiva in the Southwest. Visitor Center and picnic facilities available.
Travel 7 miles south on Hwy. 550 and 3 miles west on Hwy. 64 to Salmon Ruin. Both Salmon and Aztec Ruins were built by the Anasazi in the architectural style of Chaco Canyon. Tree ring dates from roof beams tell us that most of the Salmon Pueblo was built between 1088 and 1095 A.D., which is a very short time considering the huge dimensions of the structure. After 40 years of occupation in the mid-1100s, the site was abandoned and then reoccupied in the late 1100s.
Take a step back in time at Heritage Park, which is comprised of eight habitation units representing human occupation of the San Juan Valley through thousands of years. Sites include the ice age pond, an archaic sand dune hunting site, a basketmaker pithouse, Ute and Jicarilla Apache wickiups and teepees, Navajo forked-stick and cribbed-log hogans, and the original Salmon family homestead. Self-guided and guided tours of the grounds are available. Salmon Ruins also sponsors guided tours of Chaco Canyon and the Dinètah area. Call (505) 632-2013 for information.
Return to Farmington, 10 miles west on Hwy. 64, to enjoy a relaxing evening of Outdoor Summer Theater presented in a natural sandstone amphitheater. Call (800) 448-1240 or (505) 327-9336 for information. If the outdoor drama is not being performed, check the calendar of events for other productions, or enjoy an evening of country western dancing at a local club.
Day 6 — Travel 10 miles east on Hwy. 64 then 50 miles south on Hwy. 550 to the turn-off for Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Be prepared to drive 16 miles on dirt roads after the turn-off. Chaco Canyon was once the dwelling place of the Anasazi, or "Ancient Ones", and has been designated a World Heritage Site. Thirteen major excavated ruins now dominate the canyon floor. The surrounding network of 1,200 miles of arrow-straight roads were the production of relatively sophisticated engineering and have impressed even veteran archaeologists. It is no wonder that these recent discoveries have generated a new scientific field of research - archaeoastronomy - and earned Chaco the nickname "Stonehenge of the Southwest".
Day 7 — Travel west on Hwy. 64 to Shiprock (30 miles) and view the famous Shiprock Pinnacle along the way. Take Hwy. 491 to Gallup, New Mexico, the heart of Indian Country, featuring nightly Indian dances, (end of May through September 1). The Annual Intertribal Indian Ceremonial, held mid August, is one of the country's major Native American events. The festivities include an all-Indian rodeo, parade, powwow, Indian Marketplace and Indian dancers from throughout the nation and Mexico. Area attractions include: Zuni Pueblo, El Morro National Park, Hubbell's Trading Post, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Day 8 — Travel east on I-40 to Grants, New Mexico, and visit the New Mexico Museum of Mining, El Malpais National Monument, Ice Caves and Bandera Crater, Acoma Pueblo-Sky City, La Ventana Arch and Crownpoint, which is the home of the monthly Navajo Rug Auction. Return to Albuquerque via Interstate 40 east or by rail via Amtrak.
Native American Culture Past & Present
There are many ancient Indian ruins located right in the Four Corners. Aztec Ruins National Monument, 14 miles east on Hwy. 516, provides a glimpse into the lives of the ancestors of modern puebloan people. This Chacoan style pueblo is over 800 years old and features the only fully reconstructed great kiva in the Southwest. A self-guided tour will lead you through this ancestral pueblo village. Admission is $5, kids 16 and under free. Golden Age, Eagle and Access Passes accepted.
For more history and culture, head south 7 miles on Hwy. 550 to Bloomfield, then west 3 miles on Hwy. 64 to Salmon Ruins and Heritage Park. The museum contains an extensive collection of artifacts from the excavation at Salmon Ruins.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds of Heritage Park at Salmon Ruins. The park is comprised of eight habitation units which represent human occupation of the San Juan Basin throughout thousands of years. Don't miss the original adobe Salmon homestead site which is full of unique memorabilia and pictures from the 1800s. Admission to the museum and for the self-guided tour is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, $1 for kids 6-16 and free for kids under 6.
Return to Farmington and visit some of the many trading posts in the area (see partial list) to shop for Native American arts, crafts, jewelry, pottery and rugs. Visit with the traders about the history of the trading post and how it exists today. You might even catch a demonstration by a local artist. Spend the evening under the stars at Farmington's Lion's Wilderness Park Amphitheater, located 2.5 miles north of San Juan College, during a performance of outdoor summer theater.