Nestled in the heart of the southwest is beautiful, rustic and one-of-a-kind four corners USA. Growing up in the Colorado side has given me a bit of a bias, and I would definitely have to say that this side is the best. Although, the other states of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, all of which contribute to this heartland, have their perks too. As I grew up in this neck of the woods, my dad always used to say, that this place is the gateway to whatever outdoor adventure you want to find. He was right. Whether you’re looking for mountains, deserts, or rivers, this is the heartland; the mecca for anything wild. The only thing missing is the ocean.
I never realized growing up just how magnificently beautiful it really was around here. With the La Plata Mountains set in the east, Mesa Verde Plateau to the south, the Sleeping Ute Mountain to the West, the Abajo Mountains in Utah settled in the northwest, and numerous other mountain ranges and peaks seen from high points in the area, this place really is a hidden gem in the landscape of our country.
My mom calls it small town USA, and she is right too. I went to Dolores School District from K-11th grade with the same kids throughout my entire childhood. I knew the names of everyone in my class, and the class bellow me, above me, and above them. We all succumbed to typical small town dramas, where everyone knew and talked about everyone else’s problems. I graduated high school from South West Open School in Cortez, with a class of 17 and if I would have stayed in Dolores, there was around 60 graduates. Small towns certainly have their drawbacks, but they also have their upsides too. I grew up with a whole community who, still to this day, love and care for me dearly. This same community has been there for me my whole life, watching me grow from a child into an adult. They were there for my mother and I when my dad tragically passed away 5½ years ago. To have a community to hold us together in such a time of need means more than words can describe.
Despite being in the middle of nowhere, with limited access, lack of urban conveniences, and with the closest major airports being 4 hours (Albuquerque) and 8 hours (Denver and Phoenix) away, the rural southwest Colorado will always be my home. And quite honestly, I couldn’t get married without my small town community, my village; the village that helped raise me. Frankly, this area will be an amazing backdrop setting to our rustic, country wedding. So… now I target all of you who might be contemplating the journey here. For many of Scott’s side of the family and some of mine too, it could be a hike to get here from various parts of the US. But, I promise it will be worth the trip. We will be pit roasting farm raised pig and turkey in the ground for starters, and many more mouth watering and fun filled ideas are manifesting. Also, there is tons to do here: hiking, mountains biking, zip-lining, horseback riding, white-water river rafting, boating on lakes, train rides on the narrow gage Durango to Silverton railroad, exploring history through the many ancient archeological ruins of the ancestral Pueblo, mountain climbing and much more. Of course Scott and I don’t expect everyone to come, but it would mean the world to us if you did.
Now you might be thinking, “Ok, you’ve sparked my interest, but how do I get myself and my whole family there, and once I’m there, where on earth do I stay?” There are really only two options on how to get here:
- Take a road-trip with your family and drive here.
I wish someone would invent ‘tellatransport’ already.
Like I mentioned above, the closest major airports are not that close. You could fly into Denver, Phoenix or Albuquerque, get a rental car and drive the rest of the way. Denver and Phoenix are both about a 6.5 to 8-hour drive and Albuquerque is about a 4-hour drive. Durango and Cortez each have a small airport, but because they are more secluded they will cost more to fly into. Then, you will still have to worry about a rental car because there isn’t public transportation to get you to my mom’s log cabin on summit ridge (the site of the wedding). Durango airport is about a 1-hour drive (even though the town of Durango is only 45 minutes away), the airport is a bit of of town, on a flat plateau. Cortez airport is about 30 minutes away. American Airlines and United Airlines fly into Durango (La Plata Airport) and Boutique Air flies into Cortez (Cortez Municipal Airport).
If you’re still reading, you might be thinking, “Ok, this could be doable. It will be a great vacation for our family, but where do we stay?”
I am going to go more into detail about lodging options during my next blog post, but for now you should consider looking into options in the towns of Dolores, Mancos and Cortez. Dolores and Mancos are both a 10-minute drive and Cortez is about 20 minutes. For those of you who use Airbnb.com and vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner) these are spectacular lodging options and I would personally recommend looking into these alternatives.