This approximate 160 mile loop drive will take you through desert canyons and wide open country of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah. You will go through the communities of Cortez, Blanding, Monticello, and Dove Creek.
This road adventure will take about 4 hours with minimal stops. However to enjoy the various attractions and a couple of side detours, allow yourself at least one or two days! It is recommended that the trip be taken in a clock-wise direction starting from Cortez, Colorado. This allows one the opportunity to stay over-night in Blanding or Monticello if necessary.
Many consider Cortez the cultural center of Mesa Verde Country. Strong agricultural traditions and Native American heritage characterize this town, located in the valley that is shadowed by Mesa Verde. Ancient cliff dwellings, cowboys and farms mingle harmoniously below the surrounding mountains.
As one of the most popular trails in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, this 6.5 mile trail one-way takes you along Sand Canyon and the vast beauty of canyonlands and numerous puebloan cliff dwellings. The trail is for hikers, mountain bikers, and some horseback riding.
Within this monument are six ancestral Puebloan villages spread over a 20-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado state line. The main complex and park facility is located in Utah. From this location, one can hike along a trail system on the mesa top to view numerous structure and ruins.
The Dinosaur Museum exhibits a complete history of the world of dinosaurs. Skeletons, fossilized skin, eggs, footprints, state-of-the-art graphics, and beautifully realistic sculptures present the dinosaurs from the Four Corners region.
Edge of the Cedars museum houses the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan pottery in the Four Corners Area. The museum was built at the site of an ancient village which included dwelling units and a kiva. The kiva and some other structures have been restored and can be viewed behind the museum. The museum offers programs for adults and children, including archeology and art exhibitions, storytelling, and craft workshops.
Sheltered by the Abajo Mountains, Monticello is a cool and peaceful summer get-away. It is a small town with a big playground. Popular day tours include Canyonlands National Park, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Manti-La Sal National Forest, the Needles, and Anticline Overlooks. Monticello is a center for hunting in the fall. While visiting, take the time to visit the following museums.
Deriving its name from the wild doves inhabiting local waterways, Dove Creek is best known as one of the pinto bean capitals of the world! The Adobe Milling company sells the famous Anasazi beans and numerous other locally produced products.