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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : New Mexico

12.2 miles (19.7 km) N of Aztec, San Juan, NM, USA
Approx. altitude: 1997 m (6551 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 37°S 72°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: GPS receiver at confluence site. #3: View to the west from the confluence. #4: Sign of the area:  Gas Pipeline, about 400 meters southeast of the confluence. #5: The visitor at the confluence site. #6: View to the east along the state line, 40 meters southeast of the confluence, Colorado on left, New Mexico on right. #7: View to the east from the confluence. #8: View to the northeast from the state line, 100 meters southeast of the confluence. #9: View to the south from the confluence, toward the New Mexico border.

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  37°N 108°W (visit #2)  

#1: View from the confluence, looking north.

(visited by Joseph Kerski)

03-Aug-2004 -- As I, Joseph Kerski, was en route to teach Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GPS at the Mountain Studies Institute Summer Workshop in Durango, Colorado, I thought it only fitting to visit a confluence along the way. I successfully visited 37 North, 108 West, in beautiful southwest Colorado.

At 5pm, after setting up in the computer lab at Fort Lewis College in Durango, I drove south along US Highway 550 to a point about 8 kilometers south of the New Mexico border. Just north of the community of Cedar Hill, I chose a road running to the northwest. I little thought that this first guess would prove to be the correct one, but I was on a roll, having visited 38 North, 106 West earlier in the day. I traversed Bureau of Land Management land, and passed a small corral containing a few cows dining on the small amount of grass in this arid region. The area is rich in history. The confluence is located on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, and not far to the northwest lies the ruins of the Anasazi people, who built cliff dwellings in the 1200s, preserved in Mesa Verde National Park.

Natural Gas--this is what allowed me to visit the confluence so quickly. The reason is that this area lies atop one of the nation's richest natural gas fields, and several decent gravel roads built to access these wells meander through the area. The San Juan basin already contains 18,000 gas wells, and concern exists about the nitrogen oxide that these gas well compressors emit. I expected to park and hike in several kilometers to the confluence, but kept finding roads leading northwest. I crossed into Colorado and then back to New Mexico to a dead-end at a gas well on a high bluff, 500 meters east of the confluence. I decided to make one last attempt to find a closer approach, as the steep hillsides would take time to hike. I found a road that placed me 280 meters to the south of the confuence, at yet another gas well. I parked the vehicle and secured some water, the landowner letter, GPS, and camera. Nobody was in sight, and the nearby gas wellhead compressor made an eerie droning noise. I began to hike across a landscape covered with sand from eroded sandstones in the area. I walked up a trail to the northeast to the New Mexico-Colorado state line, and then westward along the state line to a point 20 meters south of the confluence. As a geographer, I have alwasys been fascinated by boundaries, so walking on one was a great thrill. When I reached a point due south of the confluence, I stopped. I scaled the fence, landed in Colorado, walked down a shallow slope, and arrived at the confluence at 6:30pm local time.

The confluence lies on flat ground, at the southwest end of a small clearing that is 10 meters wide by 20 meters long. Despite a few trees, particularly one about 1 meter to the west, I had little problem zeroing out the GPS unit. The ground is about 50% bare soil, with the rest covered by rocks, yucca, and short grasses. The GPS gave a reading of 6536 feet (1992 meters) above sea level. The area, the home of the Southern Ute Tribe, is beautiful, with sandstone bluffs and cliffs separated by wide valleys. Both bluff and valley are about 50% covered with pinon and juniper treees. Despite the late hour, the temperature was a warm 34 degrees C, with light winds. I could see no dwellings, no water, and no gas wells. I saw no animals or birds, though I did watch for rattlesnakes. I could just barely hear the gas well drone from this location.

I had previously visited the 37 degree parallel at 122 west in California and at 77 west in Virginia, besides an attempt at 76 west off of the Virginia coast. I had visited the 108th meridian twice before, at 39 north in Colorado and at 46 north in Montana. After enjoying about 25 minutes at the confluence, I hiked south to the track along the state line, took some photographs, back to the vehicle, and drove back to Durango. The setting sun created wonderful shadows on the sandstone cliffs. It was indeed a fine way to begin the Mountain Studies Institute.


 All pictures
#1: View from the confluence, looking north.
#2: GPS receiver at confluence site.
#3: View to the west from the confluence.
#4: Sign of the area: Gas Pipeline, about 400 meters southeast of the confluence.
#5: The visitor at the confluence site.
#6: View to the east along the state line, 40 meters southeast of the confluence, Colorado on left, New Mexico on right.
#7: View to the east from the confluence.
#8: View to the northeast from the state line, 100 meters southeast of the confluence.
#9: View to the south from the confluence, toward the New Mexico border.
#10: 360-degree panoramic movie with sound filmed at the confluence (MPG format).
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Notes
In the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, exactly on the border between NM and OR.