Everybody has an idea about the size of USA, that’s the fact. These gigantic areas of land are also commensurate with the size of protected areas which is reflected in all the national, state and regional parks, monuments and natural preserves. The total of these protected areas exceeds 200,000 km2; the largest national park in US (Wrangel-St.Elias) is bigger than Slovakia, and the third largest protected area of Denali National Park and Preserve is almost as big as present state of Macedonia.
USA, The Four Corners
What is very admirable is the density of these protected areas and we are not talking about famous places as Yellowstone or Everglades, we are talking about regular National Parks, National Monuments and National Historic Sites. Therefore, lets visit protected areas of Southwest of USA and the best starting point is that corner of the country called The Four Corners.
USA, The Four Corners
Why Four Corners? It doesn’t sound very magical but believe me, it is magic. It is not just the spot where states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet. 20 years ago there was just a stick in the ground indicating the spot. Today there is almost a monument replacing the stick. The magic lays in the array of national parks, monuments and historic sites surrounding this spot. If you get there, first find a map called Guide to Indian Country and that will detail for you everything you would like see there. But beware there is so much to see that you would need years to see it all. Here you are in the area called Colorado Plateau and in this case the word ‘colorado’ really means coloured, as the landscape displays rich colours in shades of orange, red and purple. The plateau is full of canyons, mesas, hoodoos, reefs, natural bridges and the variety of sculptured rocks. The rocks are mostly sandstone, siltstone and limestone, all coloured by the iron and manganese they contain. As they are quite soft they easily erode to these fantastic shapes.
USA, The Four Corners
The whole area was inhabited originally by farming native people called „Anasazi“ which means ancient. Their presence is documented for the period from 1st century AD to about 1300 AD, when they suddenly disappeared. From that time on the vacuum was filled with the Navajo nation, Hopi, Zuni and Ute. The first European visitors got here in 1776 and finally it was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s.
To preserve this natural beauty, United States government filled this area with national parks. This concentration of parks include Arches NP, Bryce and Zion Canyon NP, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, Natural Bridges, Capital Reef and of course Grand Canyon of Colorado.
USA, The Four Corners
Lets name them all. Maybe not all of these are in the limited area of Four Corners but all of them are in these four states. There are 22 national parks in Arizona. On top of these you have to include national monuments and national historic sites. That includes even the historic multistate trails as Old Spanish Trail, winding from California through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico and of course Pony Express Trail.

  • Canyon de Chelly
  • Casa Grande Ruins
  • Chiricahua
  • Coronado
  • Fort Bowie
  • Glen Canyon
  • Grand Canyon
  • Hohokam Pima
  • Hubbell Trading Post
  • Juan Bautista de Anza
  • Lake Mead
  • Montezuma Castle
  • Navajo
  • Old Spanish
  • Organ Pipe Cactus
  • Parashant
  • Petrified Forest
  • Pipe Spring
  • Saguaro
  • Sunset Crater Volcano
  • Tonto
  • Tumacácori
  • Tuzigoot
  • Walnut Canyon
  • Wupatki
  • Yuma Crossing

USA, The Four Corners
New Mexico offers 13 national parks plus the other categories:

  • Aztec Ruins
  • Bandelier
  • Capulin Volcano
  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • Chaco Culture
  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
  • El Malpais
  • El Morro
  • Fort Union
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings
  • Northern Rio Grande
  • Old Spanish
  • Pecos
  • Petroglyph
  • Salinas Pueblo Missions
  • Santa Fe
  • White Sands

USA, The Four Corners
Number 13 must be lucky, as Colorado has 13 national parks as well:

  • Bent’s Old Fort
  • Black Canyon Of The Gunnison
  • Cache La Poudre
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Curecanti
  • Dinosaur
  • Florissant Fossil Beds
  • Great Sand Dunes
  • Hovenweep
  • Mesa Verde
  • Old Spanish
  • Pony Express
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Sand Creek Massacre
  • Santa Fe
  • Yucca House

USA, The Four Corners
And thirteen again; 13 national parks of Utah:

USA, The Four Corners
These images were taken by Pavlína Zahradníková, winter 2007–08.