A good place to spot wild horses just about any day of the week is the Four Corners region. Four Corners is where the square borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet in the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Nation is also right next door. There are many landmarks, National Parks and National Monuments in this region, so it is easy to step right into the wide open spaces of the west! Just a few dozen miles northwest of Four Corners is where the Canyons Of The Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments are located in Utah. All along the roads going to these two National Monuments is where wild horses tend gather on a regular basis and they often will practically pose for the camera!
When traveling from the Four Corners Monument on Highway 160, the southern access road to Hovenweep National Monument is located about six miles north. Colorado State Road 41 is the route to look for and the Hovenweep signage is easy to spot. Colorado State Road 41 changes name to Utah State Road 162 across the border. From the border, Utah SR 162 continues west to the Hovenweep access road, which is where the visitor center is located. There are facilities and campgrounds in this National Monument, which is like a sigh of relief in this desolate region. Cortez, Colorado is the closest gateway town and modern accommodations can be found there.
All along Colorado SR 41 and Utah SR 162 is where plenty of wild horses can be spotted. The reason why is because this entire region is high desert grazing land and the San Juan River runs close by. In this area, the wild horses do cross the roads to get to the river water, so it does pay to not be in a hurry when passing through, in order to avoid disastrous collisions. The wild horses can be plenty thirsty on a hot day and this can make them oblivious to the cars on the road. Taking it slow is the best way to go when passing through, which also creates more opportunities to see more wild horses!
I have been to Four Corners, Hovenweep and the Canyons Of The Ancients many times during the last few years and the wild horse photos for this article are a compilation from about a half dozen trips. Oddly enough, the thought of getting bored with seeing so many wild horses in this place has never occurred, because these beautiful animals are always amazing to see in a majestic wilderness setting.
The entire Four Corners Region is currently threatened by politically corrupt gas fracking and a few spills have already occurred in the San Juan River basin. There are days when the stink of the gas fracking is so strong, that no wildlife can be seen for miles around. The fracking and oil wells are definitely an eyesore, which adds to the downside of the Hovenweep region wild horse spotting excursion. For this reason, it is good to support environmental groups that protect public lands at this time, before the majestic beauty of the west is destroyed forever in the name of gluttony and greed. Sharing photos of the wild horses definitely helps because this spreads awareness, so by all means, be sure to post the wild horse photos on social networks after getting back to civilization.
Wild horses are also threatened by corrupt BLM policies, which include herd roundups that result in these animals being sold for food value. The Navajo Nation takes a much more natural stance on wild horse management and these wild animals are welcome on tribal land. There are tribal organizations that tend to the welfare of these friendly wild beasts that are worth checking into. Often the funding does run short of goals when the wild horses need to be fed during the winter, so this is another good cause to support when counting the spare change back home.
Encountering wild horses near the Hovenweep National Monument in the Four Corners region is fairly easy to do. In fact, it is all too easy to be distracted by the wild horses and completely forget about the primary destination altogether! More than twice I set out to photograph an ancient pueblo in Hovenweep or the Canyons Of The Ancients, only to find myself hanging around with the wild horses all afternoon instead. Wild horses in a desolate desert landscape certainly do create good photo opportunities, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
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