A Foray Into the Four Corners

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 05 2009 12:00 AM ET

From Monument Valley, you could easily spend a week or more looping through this storied landscape, which is easily accessed from gay-favored Santa Fe, N.M.; Sedona and the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. All of these highlights are within striking distance of the View Hotel.

La Posada Hotel and Gardens

Seminal Western architect Mary Colter (she also designed Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon) built this rambling, storied hotel in 1929 in Winslow, Ariz., a faded yet funky railroad town that's lately developed cachet with artists and creative spirits. Explore the desert-inspired gardens and darkly engaging artwork of co-owner Tina Mion. The Turquoise Room offers some of the most skillfully rendered contemporary Southwestern cuisine in Arizona. The rustic yet artfully restored rooms sport names of celebrated past guests like Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, and Franklin Roosevelt. LaPosada.org

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

One hundred miles southeast of Monument Valley is this relatively undervisited national park that comprises a pair of sheer-walled canyons roughly 1,000 feet deep. For wow factor, the many viewing areas along the park's two scenic drives nearly rival those of the Grand Canyon (and, thankfully, receive a fraction of the crowds). Intrepid explorers should consider a guided tour into the actual canyons. These are available on foot, four-wheel-drive vehicle, and -- most memorably -- horseback. NPS.gov/cach

Four Corners Monument

The Four Corners region takes its name from its geographical focal point, the only spot in the United States where the borders of four states (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) touch. It's marked by a brass plaque where visitors photograph one another posing goofily with body parts stretched into each state. This endearingly cheesy photo op lies about 80 miles east of Monument Valley along U.S. 160, which continues on to southwestern Colorado to another outstanding Four Corners attraction, Mesa Verde National Park. Famed for its perfectly restored Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and thousands of archaeological sites, Mesa Verde lies about 50 miles beyond Four Corners Monument. NavajoNationParks.org; NPS.gov/meve

Moab's red rocks

Drive 150 miles northeast of the View Hotel to reach this picturesque town flanked by the Colorado River. Moab is home to two of the most spectacular national parks in the country, Arches and Canyonlands, and it's also one of the most politically progressive communities in Utah. The parks' fascinating red rock formations draw legions of outdoor and photography enthusiasts. In downtown Moab laid-back brewpubs, caf├ęs, and outdoor-gear shops give visitors plenty to see and do. DiscoverMoab.com