hirsting for a geopolitical split? Straddling a common border between two states can be a kick, but even more thrilling is squatting on three at once, where states converge at one point: a “tri-point,” or trifinium. For a slightly enhanced adventure, take some time off from work, pay an entrance fee and stand in line waiting to visit Four Corners, a quadri-point (AZ-CO-NM-UT) where visitors can lie down on the lines drawn and be quartered. But if you’re just seeking a brief fling with geography, tri-points are less crowded, much closer, more numerous and still three-quarters the fun of a quadri-point.

ID-OR-WA Elev. 866 feet Snake River 300 feet from shore
CA-NV-OR Elev. 5,293 feet 2 miles
ID-NV-OR Elev. 5,277 feet 1 mile
ID-NV-UT Elev. 5,230 feet 3 miles
ID-UT-WY Elev. 7,057 feet 3,000 feet
ID-MT-WY Elev. 8,347 feet 4-10 miles
CO-UT-WY Elev. 8,402 feet Park and look
AZ-CO-NM-UT Elev. 4,870 feet $3 fee
AZ-NV-UT Elev. 2,557 feet 4 miles
AZ-CA-NV Elev. 478 feet Colorado River 130 feet from shore
MT-ND-SD Elev. 3,055 feet 1.6 miles
MT-SD-WY Elev. 3,428 feet 0.5 miles
NE-SD-WY Elev. 3,932 feet 1 mile
CO-NE-WY Elev. 5,382 feet Park and look
CO-KS-NE Elev. 3,447 feet Park and look
CO-KS-OK Elev. 3,692 feet In road
CO-NM-OK Elev. 4,444 feet Park and look
NM-OK-TX Elev. 4,712 feet Park and look
IA-MN-SD Elev. 1,413 feet In road
IA-NE-SD Elev. 1,101 feet Missouri River 350 feet from shore
MN-ND-SD Elev. 972 feet Park and look
IA-MO-NE Elev. 907 feet Missouri River 275 feet from shore
KS-MO-NE Elev. 853 feet Missouri River 350 feet from shore
KS-MO-OK Elev. 1,016 feet In road
AR-MO-OK Elev. 1,049 feet Park and look
AR-OK-TX Elev. 292 feet Red River island 300 feet from shore
AR-LA-TX Elev. 224 feet 40 feet
MI-MN-WI Elev. 600 feet Lake Superior 25 miles from shore
IL-MI-WI Elev. 577 feet Lake Michigan 40 miles from shore
IL-IN-MI Elev. 577 feet Lake Michigan 9.5 miles from shore
IA-MN-WI Elev. 621 feet Mississippi River 525 feet from shore
IA-IL-WI Elev. 604 feet Mississippi River 325 feet from shore
IA-IL-MO Elev. 483 feet Mississippi River 0.25 miles from shore
IL-KY-MO Elev. 292 feet Mississippi River 0.25 miles from shore
KY-MO-TN-1 Elev. 273 feet Mississippi River 0.25 miles from shore
KY-MO-TN-2 Elev. 269 feet Mississippi River 0.25 miles from shore
KY-MO-TN-3 Elev. 263 feet Mississippi River 0.25 miles from shore
AR-MO-TN Elev. 240 feet Miss. River oxbow 150 feet from shore
AR-MS-TN Elev. 189 feet Mississippi River 700 feet from shore
AR-LA-MS Elev. 80 feet Mississippi River 690 feet from shore
IL-IN-KY Elev. 347 feet Ohio River 750 feet from shore
IN-KY-OH Elev. 460 feet Ohio River 700 feet from shore
KY-OH-WV Elev. 518 feet Ohio River 100 feet from shore
OH-PA-WV Elev. 665 feet Ohio River 75 feet from shore
IN-MI-OH Elev. 1,071 feet In road
AL-MS-TN Elev. 427 feet Pickwick Lake 0.25 miles from shore
AL-GA-TN Elev. 725 feet 200 yards
GA-NC-TN Elev. 1,758 feet 200 yards
GA-NC-SC Elev. 2,147 feet 3.5 miles
AL-FL-GA Elev. 83 feet 0.25 miles
KY-TN-VA Elev. 1,988 feet 1.1 miles
NC-TN-VA Elev. 4,636 feet 1.5 miles
KY-VA-WV Elev. 828 feet 0.6 miles
MD-PA-WV Elev. 2,328 feet 0.57 miles
MD-VA-WV Elev. 254 feet 0.25 miles
DC-MD-VA-1 Elev. 23 feet 175 feet
DC-MD-VA-2 Sea level 640 feet
DE-MD-PA Elev. 236 feet 800 feet
DE-NJ-PA Sea level Delaware River 0.5 miles from shore
NJ-NY-PA Elev. 409 feet Waterside
CT-MA-NY Elev. 2,151 feet 1.5 miles
MA-NY-VT Elev. 1,436 feet 1 mile
MA-NH-VT Elev. 181 feet 775 feet
CT-NY-RI Sea level Fisher's Isl. Sound 1 mile from shore
CT-MA-RI Elev. 625 feet 0.8 miles

How to read the signs

The fast-flowing Snake River flows over this point in Hell's Canyon. Put your raft in a mile upstream at Cache Creek Guard Station.

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A cemented stone cairn, Established in 1872 by the Von Schmidt Survey, holds a weathered wood marker engraved with the words “The Boundary Post.” But more than 100 feet to the southwest is a 1950 USGS bronze marker bearing names of the three sates. Take your pick.

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A marker was first set here in 1867, as close to the 42nd parallel as could be determined by the methods of the day. A relatively new marker bearing the letters I, N, and O is the most remote of all state trifinia, standing more than 35 miles from the nearest paved highway. Nevertheless, a regular car can drive on dirt roads to within a mile of the marker. Motor the whole way if you have four-wheel drive.

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A 1999 marker replaced the original post set in 1873 at the intersection of state-line fences. You need permission to drive onto and hike this private land.

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A new marker has been erected and surrounded by fencing to protect it from cattle. The original marker was established in 1874.

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Inside Yellowstone National Park and on the Continental Divide,this is perhaps the most challenging tri-point to tackle. The marker stands in an area badly burned during the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. At the Caribou-Targhee National Forest ranger statio in Idaho, check with the rangers to determine the best route. There is no easy path to the simple marker and stone cairn: downed trees and swollen creeks might block your way.

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This highest tri-point is hard to miss with it's billboard-size sign erected by a Colorado Kiwanis Club and Boy Scout troop, which describes the importance of such markers in aiding "the development and orderly settlement of the public lands of the western states."

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The nation’s only quadripoint is in the Navajo Nation, which administers Four Corners Monument. In the past, many argued that early surveying errors missed the mark and that the true point should be almost 2,000 feet farther west. But in 1925, the Supreme Court ruled that the site of the marker set in 1875 was the legal quadripoint, despite its not corresponding with the written designation. Admission: $3 to lounge on a huge bronze disc embedded in granite.

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A 1901 red sandstone marker is capped with a smear of concrete holding a bronze USGS survey disk. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can drive right up to it. Otherwise, you're in for an 8-mile round-trip hike.

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The point is 130 feet from the eastern shore of the Colorado River, about 18 miles downstream from Davis Dam. A witness marker stands on the CA-NV shore.

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Erected in 1892, a 10-inch square, quartzite marker stands along a fence row in farmlands. It is the westernmost in a series of similar markers spaced every half mile along the border of the two Dakotas. Only about half of the markers remain.

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Replacing the 1877 marker, a fenced-in 1993 granite marker is capped with a bronze survey disk from the Bureau of Land Management. About a mile to the east is a lonely marker designating the SE corner of Wyoming.

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A white limestone marker set in 1869 stands beside a larger quartzite post set by a later surveyor in 1893. A 1962 bronze plaque explains the significance of each. All are surrounded by a chain-link fence.

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An 1869 limestone marker was upgraded in 1997 with a wide tri-colored stone base, surrounded by a low, iron cattle barrier. A bronze BLM survey disk is cemented into the monument's cap on 1990.

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A fenced-in 1990 bronze BLM benchmark set in concrete marks the tri-point, which replaces an errant 1869 limestone marker that still stands about 600 feet to the south. The new site features a brone plaque with historical information. A brightly painted mailbox, which once held information leaflet, appearsto have been vandalized in later photos.

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A crudely welded manhole-size metal plate marks the tri-point in the middle of Road A. An adjacent windmill tower bears the cutout names of the three states, and is topped with a rusty steel bison.

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Roger Simpson stand beside the Preston Monument. Like many markers, this one has been resurveyed and relocated several times. Set in a large block of concrete, the 1928 gray granite marker spells out the names of three states. It replaced an 1881 marker, which still stand about 950 feet to the north.

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You'll need to cross a cattle guard or step through a barbed-wire fence to view this conical metal-and-concrete witness marker, which is capped with a bronze survey disk of the U.S. General land Office.

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A monument once stood in the middle of an intersection, which elicited vandalism and car accidents. The keepers of the monument eventually placed it to the side of the road, where it stands protected by wooden guard rails. However, a flat metal disc in the road markes at the true tifinium.

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Brian J. Butler in a kayak at the IA-NE-SD tri-point in the mouth of the Big Sioux River where it meets the Missouri River at Sioux City.

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80 feet to the west of the granite witness marker is the unmarked true tri-point, which originally was covered by the Bois de Sioux River until engineers changed the channel.

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A point awash in the Missouri River.

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Another Missouri River drowned-out tri-point.

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A tri-point marker is embedded at the dead end of road straddling MO and KS, uncreatively named SE 118th St. A stone witness cairn stands nearby.

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While filling up at the gas station across the road, pay a quick visit to this 1823 marker embedded in a 1915 marker, which was placed on a new base in 1955.

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The tri-point is unmarked on island sandbar in the middle of the Red River.

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No, the large, stone Texas-shaped roadside marker that screams “TEXAS” is not the tri-point. About 70 feet to the north, at the base of a tree, stands the much more modest rectangular stone tri-point, placed in 1895 and capped with a bronze USGS survey disc.

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In Lake Superior, 107 miles east-northeast of Duluth.

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In the middle of Lake Michigan, east of Kenosha, Wis., 60 miles north of Gary.

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In Lake Michigan, 18 miles east of Chicago.

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An official sign on the IA-MN bank faces the watery point in the Mississippi River.

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In the Mississippi River, across from Dubuque's Hamm Island.

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The point where the mouth of the Des Moines River meets the Mississippi River.

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You will need to fight barge traffic here, where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi.

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Two bonus trifinia are formed by a stranded peninsula of Kentucky, just south of New Madrid, Missouri, near the site of the legendary earthquake. All three points are drowned out by the Mississippi River. If visiting all three, it’s easier to start upstream.

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Two bonus trifinia are formed by a stranded peninsula of Kentucky, just south of New Madrid, Missouri, near the site of the legendary earthquake. All three points are drowned out by the Mississippi River. If visiting all three, it’s easier to start upstream.

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Two bonus trifinia are formed by a stranded peninsula of Kentucky, just south of New Madrid, Missouri, near the site of the legendary earthquake. All three points are drowned out by the Mississippi River. If visiting all three, it’s easier to start upstream.

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A stagnant-water point in the middle of an old channel, or ox-bow lake, of the Mississippi River.

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Although the Mississippi River is nearly a mile across, the tri-point is only 700 feet from the AR shore.

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Near the middle of the Mississippi River.

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At the mouth of the Wabash River, where it flows into the Ohio River.

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Near the mouth of the Great Miami River, where it meets the Ohio.

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Close to the Ohio shore, where the Big Sandy River meets the Ohio.

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The tri-point is in the Ohio River, just offshore from the OH-PA state line.

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The tri-point was established by a wooden stake in 1817, which was replaced by a brown stone in 1869. Replacing that in 1915: a granite marker set in concrete, 2.5 feet beneath the center of N 1000 E Road. The current marker is a bronze disk engraved with a map of the three states and set in concrete inside a small steel chamber in the middle of the road. The chamber was once covered by a steel plate marked with the letter M. A nearby granite monument stands as a witness marker.

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The point is inundated by Pickwick Lake, formed by a TVA dam on the Tennessee River.

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An unofficial bronze disk sits in a concrete post atop some cemented stones.

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Two fence lines converge in the woods at the tri-point, marked by an unassuming bronze survey disk set in concrete and nearly covered with soil.

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On the east bank of the Chatooga River, Ellicott's Rock is said to be the tifinium, engraved with "Lat 85 AD 1813 NC + SC."

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Since Georgia claims the entire Chattachoochee River, this is a somewhat variable tri-point: It is the point of the shoreline of the river where Alabama and Florida meet. No known marker exists.

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Just south of the Cumberland Gap, a mountaintop haxagonal pavilion shelters a stone plaza surrounding a bronze U.S. Coastal and Geodetic Survey disk, well-won from foot traffic. The point was first established in 1665.

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A boundary dispute between Virginia and Tennessee was settled by the supreme court in 1893. A bronze marker set in stone at the intersection of two fences marks the decreed point.

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You'll have to ford the Big Sandy River to get to this point, a bronze survey marker set on an iron post on the VA-KY side of the creek.

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A worn stone obelsik set on the Mason Dixon Line in 1910 is engraved with MD, PA, and W VA.

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Maryland claims the entire Potomac River, so the water line on the VA-WV side marks the spot, which has no official marker.

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Either cross Chain Bridge Flats and ford the Potomac River Rapids or get permission from wealthy Virginia homeowners to scale a cliff down to this wet and rocky tri-point.

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A confusing tri-point. A stone marker in Virginia is inscribed with "DC-VA Boundary 1947," but Maryland's border is at the edge of the Potomac River. Some reports spot the tri-point more than 250 feet NE of the stone marker.

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A complicated land dispute between Pennsylvania and Delaware wasn't settled until until 1921, so the area features several confusing markers and witness posts. The tri-point, on the Mason-Dixon line, is marked by a stone post engraved with an M and P (but not a D) and is capped with a bronze survey disk that points towards another marker, which is not the tri-point.

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Smack dab in the middle of the Delaware River.

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The mouth of the Neversink River Joins the waters of the Delaware at this tri-point. At water's edge, on the NY-NJ bank, a bronze survey disk is embedded in a rectangular stone set in concrete.

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Along a mountain trail, a rectangular stone pillar has incriptions for NY and MA, but not for CT.

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A square granite pillar inscribed with the dates 1896 and 1898, and the abbreviated names of the states.

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Once on west bank of Connecticut River, the granite maker became covered with sediment after a dam downstream flooded the area. A witness monument stands about 30 feet away.

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If you’ve ever ridden the Block Island-New London Ferry, you might have passed right over this tri-point in Fisher's Island Sound.

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A thick granite post is engraved with the date 1883 and the three state names, but the true tri-point marker is a 1937 bronze survey disk 30 feet to the south.

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hirsting for a geopolitical split? Straddling a common border between two states can be a kick, but even more thrilling is squatting on three at once, where states converge at one point: a “tri-point,” or trifinium. For a slightly enhanced adventure, take some time off from work, pay an entrance fee and stand in line waiting to visit Four Corners, a quadri-point (AZ-CO-NM-UT) where visitors can lie down on the lines drawn and be quartered. But if you’re just seeking a brief fling with geography, tri-points are less crowded, much closer, more numerous and still three-quarters the fun of a quadri-point.

Modest monuments often mark the spot where three states meet. Locating those can sometimes be a challenge, so it helps to have a guide. One of the best is “Tri State Corners in the United States ,” a downloadable book written decades ago by John C. (“Jack”) Parsell, who claimed to be the first person to visit all of the country’s 39 dry-land tri-points. He also held claim to being the first to visit the lowest point in all 50 states, and was the 10th person to have climbed the highest point in every state.

As a tri-pointing enthusiast, Parsell argued that the famous Four Corners could be “considered as four tri-state corners at one location,” but conceded, “it is simpler to count it only once.” Parsell died in June at age 93.

The following generation added its own spin to tri-pointing. In 1998, Gregg Butler, 59, who now lives in Uniontown, Ohio, with his girlfriend and their bees, spent three months on a motorcycle, riding 18,000 miles to all but one of the dry-land tri-points (a washed-out road prevented him from reaching ID-NV-UT) and as close as possible to all but one of the watery tri-points (ID-OR-WA “was just too far off my track”). Pictures from his trip are “in a box somewhere,” he said.

Gregg’s brother, Brian J. Butler, 61, of Boston, has also pursued the points, but upped the ante on the watery corners. Using kayaks and outboard motors, Brian dodged barges and fought waves and swift currents so that he could bob atop big-river and offshore tri-points. His Web site, The Corner Corner , serves as a digital guide to the locations he conquered, including accounts and photos of his adventures.

It has been more than six years since Brian bagged a new tri-point. “It’s a tough sell [to family] to suggest vacationing for the purpose of tri-pointing,” he said.

But Roger Simpson, 72, of Oklahoma City has had some success getting his wife and daughter to go along. The family’s Web site documents their travels to Oklahoma’s five tri-point monuments, all easily accessible by car.

Not all corners are as clearly marked as Oklahoma’s, and some locations, such as DE-MD-PA, are peppered with a confusing collection of early markers set when surveying methods were less accurate or when borders were in flux. In the past, the Supreme Court has stepped in to resolve borderline bickering , ruling in some cases that pioneering survey markers take precedent over written descriptions.

Tri-points are often fixed with an official bronze survey disk stamped with coordinates and cemented into concrete, a rock or a quartzite post. Tri-pointers are advised to closely examine the information on survey disks: Some bear arrows with diversionary instructions, such as “Southwest corner of Kansas, 73.98 feet.”

Once you’ve arrived at a convergence of corners, then what? Grainy photos in Parsell’s book show him celebrating his achievement by shaking hands with companions. Brian Butler likes laying a hand on the monument, “which counts as being in three states at once.”

But the satisfaction extends beyond just that. Aside from the enjoyment of “seeing artifacts of the geopolitical development of the country,” Butler adds, “it’s just fun to be in a lot of out-of-the-way places.”

Simpson, a retired Silicon Valley software engineer, discovered that tri-points were places where he could unwind from a hectic life: “People would ask me, ‘Why would you go to such a desolate place. . . . There is nothing there.’ ” His answer: “You are right, there is nothing there. That’s why I want to go there.”

Plan your own tri-point adventure
Download a KMZ file of the tri-points