If you could take the entire sensory experience of the Four Corners region and squeeze it into a building, it would look like the Canyon Country Discovery Center in Monticello, Utah.
A bouldering wall pays homage to Indian Creek, an area just outside Canyonlands National Park that attracts rock climbers from all over the world. The Augmented Reality Sandbox has an image projected over the sand. As participants shape the sand with their hands, they can watch the geography of the Earth change. Manos and Matates allows visitors to ground corn with stones as the ancient people of the area did.
Opened in 2016, the discovery center started as a grassroots idea to create a center for visitors and locals to learn more about the Four Corners region. Today, the $12 million center sits on a sprawling 48 acres of juniper, pinon pine and sagebrush lined by hiking trails and wind turbines and framed by the Abajo Mountains in the distance. It’s proximity to Natural Bridges National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and Capitol Reef National Park and Bears Ears National Monument (in December 2017 President Trump reduced the monument in size by 85 percent from 1,351,849 acres to 201,876 acres) make it an excellent stopover.
“We want to inspire people to look at what’s around them,” says Lyndie Bradshaw, former marketing manager. “You don’t have to talk here. You can dig. We have a playscape with bouldering rocks and outdoor musical instruments. No one else is doing what we are doing here.”
The center, designed for all ages, is part of Canyon Country Discovery Center, established in 1984 as Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, offering outdoor trips, education training programs for kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers and a youth corps, all focused on the Colorado Plateau.
Get an Insider’s View on Guided Adventures
Go on a half-day or full-day adventure with the Canyon Country Discovery Center’s Adventure Education. With a guide, you’ll see and learn about the geology, human history and ecology of a particular area of the Four Corners region. Trips have included the multi-day river trips along the San Juan River to explore the geological and archaeological history of the area and hikes to areas near the Bears Ears National Monument, such as the Mule-Canyon-to-Wall-Ruin hike in nearby Cedar Mesa, which leads you to ruins inhabited more than 800 years ago.
For more information:
1117 N. Main St, P.O. Box 1029, Monticello, UT 84535
Check the event calendar for day hikes, tours, and programs.