Water to be on tap for Four Corners Monument
New bathrooms, misting will keep visitors comfortable
Visiting the Four Corners Monument to straddle four states at once is a rite of passage for families on vacation in the Southwest.
And now the Navajo Nation, which runs the monument, is improving the experience by giving it a dose of fresh water and new bathrooms with flushing toilets.
When asked of the infrastructure improvements, Navajo Parks and Recreation planner Murray Lee joked, “Are you saying you want to give the first ceremonial flush?”
Not a trivial honor for a major tourist destination that has never had running water, phone lines or electricity. A new water line is the first step. An evaporative septic system already has been installed on the Arizona side of the monument.
“The monument is in a very remote location in rugged desert country. We’re doing it to improve the amenities for tourists,” Lee said. “The septic is ready to be connected, next is the water.”
It has been a long wait, with multiple bureaucratic hurdles to negotiate, he said, but construction of a four-mile $700,000 water line from Teec Nos Pos is expected to begin in spring.
“We built the bathrooms as part of a $500,000 renovation, but they are closed because there is no water to them. The funding has been allocated for the water line, but we’re waiting for final memorandum of understanding from Indian Health Services. Then it will go forward.”
Portable toilets have been making do at the monument.
The attraction where four states meet was first marked by U.S. surveyors in 1912. It was revamped in 1962, 1992 and 2010.
“It is quite an improvement if you have not gone in awhile,” said Manuel Heart, newly elected tribal chairman for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, which borders the monument on one side.
“There is a new vendor village, and it is a cultural experience with Ute and Navajo art for sale.”
More amenities for tourists will come with the new water line, Lee said, possibly including misting areas to keep visitors cool in summer months when 100-degree temperatures are not uncommon.
“Just like resorts, tourists can walk through an ice mist,” Lee said.
Access to more water has spurred the creative process for possible improvements.
“When traveling, it is the mother who makes the decisions on where to stop, and bathrooms are thought of first. To help entertain her kids, a small water park is not out of the question.”
Long-term plans include constructing phone and power lines to the monument. But that will be another mountain to climb, Lee said.
“It is a political process, just like anywhere else,” he said.