Web Extra - Colorado Corner to Corner
How To Get to Colorado's Corners
Colorado Life Magazine Editor Matt Masich and Photo Editor Joshua Hardin recently visited all four corners of Colorado for our big Colorado: Corner to Corner story in the May/June 2018 issue. If you’ve read the article and want go on your own epic corner-hunting journey, you’ll find everything you need to know below: maps showing the exact route from the nearest town and tips on how not to get your car stuck in the mud.
Unless you’ve got a lot of free time, we’d advise you to visit the corners one at a time, perhaps devoting one weekend per corner. If you do end up visiting all four corners (or even just two or three), we’d love to hear about your adventures. Send your stories and photos to Editor Matt Masich at email@example.com.
From Cortez, head south on U.S. Highway 491. You’ll see Ute Mountain, aka Sleeping Ute, on your right. In about 15 minutes, you’ll pass Ute Mountain Casino and the town of Towaoc on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. After another 10 minutes, you’ll hang a right to go west on U.S. Highway 160.
Around this stretch, you’ll be able to see seemingly forever into New Mexico, where Shiprock is visible rising 1,500 feet from the high-desert plain. Shiprock, which started out as lava that congealed in the throat of a long-since-eroded volcano, really does look like a ship sailing across the desert. Or like a cathedral. Or like the landscape in a particularly weird dream.
After 20 minutes, you’ll cross a bridge over the San Juan River, and then you’re basically at the Four Corners Monument – you’ll see a sign showing you where to turn right. The cost to enter is $5 per person, though children 6 and younger get in free.
There are several ways to get to Colorado’s southeast corner, but here’s the most important thing to know: The Cimarron River cuts off this corner from the rest of the state, and there is no bridge across it in Colorado. That means that unless you’re driving a dune buggy or dirt bike, the only places you’ll want to cross the Cimarron River are on U.S. Highway 385 north of Boise City, Oklahoma, or on Kansas Highway 27 north of Elkhart, Kansas.
The fastest and easiest route takes you through Boise City. Starting from Springfield, take U.S. Highway 385 south, past the town of Campo. In 30 minutes, you’ll cross into Oklahoma. In another 15 minutes, you’ll hit Boise City. As the highway curves left, follow the signs to get onto U.S. Highway 56 heading east.
You’ll go east on U.S. Highway 56 for about 30 minutes, then turn left (north) onto unpaved N0550 Road. Drive due north on N0550 Road for 10 minutes until the road dead-ends in a T-intersection at County Road A, aka E0015 Road, which has two names because it’s in two states; it runs right on top of the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Turn left at this T, and in about 2 minutes you’ll see place to turn out on the right, near the crest of a gentle ridge. Here you can see some yucca plants and the platform where the tripoint windmill monument once stood (or maybe you’ll see the monument, if they ever replace it). Colorado’s actual southeast corner is in the middle of the road, marked by a manhole cover. This should go without saying, but make sure you don’t get run over if you pose for photos here.
This corner is a breeze to get to. In fact, if you’re traveling from the Denver area, you can take Interstate 76 for all but the last 4 miles or so.
Heading east on I-76, you’ll pass Julesburg and then go another 10 miles; I-76 turns into 1-80 along the way, but it’s basically the same road, and you’ll just keep driving straight until you get off at Exit 107 in Big Springs, Nebraska. From the stop sign at the offramp, hang a right to go south on County Road 209. Keep going after the pavement ends, and in 3 miles the road makes a left-hand turn and goes for another 1 miles until hitting a T-intersection. As you’re stopped at the T, you’ll see the corner marker across the road, directly ahead of you.
Even though a low, iron fence surrounds the stone marker, you may go inside it to stand on the corner.
Do not attempt to visit this corner without a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. Even with such a vehicle, do not attempt it rain is forecasted, if it is rained in the past few days, or if conditions are otherwise wet. That said, experienced off-roaders won’t find Three Corners Road terribly shocking, but people accustomed to paved streets and flatland dirt roads will find the rocks and ruts astounding and/or horrifying, even in the best conditions.
Craig is the nearest town in Colorado that’s big enough to have a stoplight. The corner is 3 or 4 hours from Craig – probably closer to 4 hours, if you’re being a safe and responsible driver. Head west from Craig on U.S. Highway 40. In about 30 minutes, you’ll come to the small town of Maybell, where on the western edge you’ll see a green sign that says: “DINOSAUR 57, SUNBEAM 6.” You want Sunbeam, so take the right turn to go that way on Colorado Highway 318. You’ll take this for 1 hour, all the way to the Utah border.
You cross a cattleguard entering Utah, whereupon the paved highway turns into unpaved Browns Park Road. Take Browns Park Road for 12.3 miles, or about 20 minutes, until you see a sign that says: “THREE CORNERS 10.” Here, take the right turn onto Three Corners Road. Although the corner is less than 10 miles away, it could take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to get there from here. You might get cellular service or smartphone GPS capabilities here, but don’t count on it.
This is the important part: About 1.7 miles up Three Corners Road, you have the option to turn right. Google Maps and your GPS might very well tell you to go that way. DO NOT GO THAT WAY. You DO want to head due north into Wyoming, then approach the corner driving east; you DO NOT want to go east, then approach the corner driving north. The route you want to take is shown on the map here. The non-recommended route has worse road conditions and passes through swampy land 0.5 miles from the corner, which is where Colorado Life’s photographer got stuck overnight, even with a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive Jeep.
At 4.6 miles from the spot you got onto Three Corners Road from Browns Park Road, you will cross a cattleguard and enter Wyoming. In another 1 mile, you will come to a three-way intersection, where you want to hang a right to go east; you should see a sign that says: “CLAY BASIN CAMP 4, TRI STATE MARKER 4.” Unless you suddenly realize you have pressing business to attend to in Clay Basin Camp, you’ll probably want to follow the arrow to Tri State Marker.
This last stretch is the rockiest and has the biggest craters in the road. You should probably have another person with you who can get out of the vehicle and direct you over the worst patches. It will be obvious when you get to the corner when you spot the three flagless flagpoles.