mw-nm-4corners
“I want my money back!!!”

The Four Corners, a famous and popular tourist spot in the American Southwest, is and isn’t where it should be. Confused? Read on.

Four Corners — the only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together — was first surveyed by the U.S. government in 1868, during the initial survey of Colorado’s southern boundary line. Its intended location was an even 109 degrees west longitude and 37 degrees north latitude. However, due to surveying errors, it didn’t come out that way.

According to readings by the National Geodetic Survey, today’s official marker sits at 109 02 42.62019 W longitude and 36 59 56.31532 N latitude. That means the current monument marking the intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona is approximately 2.5 miles west of where it should be. According to three different Internet sites for distance calculations (including an FCC site and GPS visualizer) the readings were 2.493; 2.484; and 2.499 miles. A member of the Utah Association of Geocachers in Price also came up with 2.5 miles by using two other Internet sites, Google Earth and the Great Circle Calculator. (Geocachers routinely rely on GPS data to find exact locations.) The true location would be downhill to the east of U.S. 160 in Colorado and northeast of the San Juan River as it flows into New Mexico.

Four Corners Monument is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Entrance fee is $3 per person.

But what’s a couple of miles between states?




  1. BubbaRay says:

    #5, McCollough, you forgot the great dark skies with no light or air pollution.

    Hellooooo Kitt Peak, Sac Peak, etc.

  2. Buzz says:

    I want my $3 back. With 7% interest. Compounded. Today valued at $12. Charlatains!

  3. Glenn E. says:

    “The true location would be downhill to the east of U.S. 160 in Colorado and northeast of the San Juan River as it flows into New Mexico.”

    There’s probably either a Walmart on that spot. Or a Starbucks. So good luck getting them to give it up for $3 a head. I wonder how that would effect determining state’s sales tax, if a retail business did sit on the four corners spot? They’d probably move the cashier lines to which ever “corner” had the highest sales tax. And they only pay back the lowest tax.

    Just like how drive in fast food joints charge a sales tax. Though you can’t eat on their premises (except the parking lot). And they pocket the taxes they collect. At once time (long ago) I use to eat at Roy Rogers, and request not to be taxed for my takeout order. And they DIDN’T tax me! But I tried the same thing with Wendy’s, later on. And forget it, they always apply the sales tax. Wendy’s corporate management has their employees well trained to ignore the law. Or maybe they lobbied to close the sales tax loophole. Anyone here, know for sure? Is every retail establishment pocketing the sales taxes on prepared food?

  4. Mr. Fusion says:

    As several have pointed out, early surveying was often rife with errors.

    One easy to see result is when a straight road suddenly makes a jog at an intersection. The old surveyors used chains to measure off distances. Two surveyor’s chains might be off by one half inch, but that half inch repeated many times added up to several feet.

    Another instance would be traveling from one county to another where none of the cross roads match. They were surveyed from different starting points with no regard for neighboring surveys.

  5. Hank T. says:

    As a tourist spot, does it really matter? It’s fun to be there and makes you think about how much space there is for us to enjoy. All the history and error making just adds to the significance of this place.

  6. taylor k. says:

    Even as a twelve year old girl, I find it interesting that they made surveying mistakes and that it is marked 2.5 miles off of where it really should be. I sometimes question myself if they made the mistake on accident, or on purpose. But, then again, I am an American citizen and I admit it is on my bucket list so therefore I will probably still visit the “fake” 4 corners as well as attempt to find where the spot really should be.