Home » 2022 Arizona and New Mexico

Shiprock, NM

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 1:45pm by Lolo
85 miles and 1.75 hours from our last stop


Dike radiating out from ShiprockDike radiating out from ShiprockWe have been intrigued by Shiprock ever since we first saw it on a driveby on Highway 64 back in 2002 on a trip through northern New Mexico. Rising 1,800 feet above the flat plains of the Navajo Indian Reservation, it can be seen from as far away as 100 miles. It’s pretty surreal.

The rock, which is actually a volcanic plug, is sacred to the Navajos, who call it Tse Bit’ A’i (Rock with Wings). According to Navajo legend, there was a time when the mountain moved like a bird, transporting the Navajo away from a distant land where they were under attack, to their present home in this part of the Southwest. Because of its sacredness to the Navajo, the peak is off limits to hikers, but can be approached from nearby roads.

South side of ShiprockSouth side of ShiprockHerb had done his research and knew just what 4WD roads we could take to get up close to its base, as well as drive around most of it. Coming from Canyon de Chelly in the south, we had a scenic drive along Highway 13 before turning right onto Red Valley Road from which there are great views of Shiprock.

However, we got even closer by turning left onto a dirt road and drove about 4 miles to its base. Unfortunately, the wind was blasting with 50 to 60 mph gusts so we could barely open the car door to get out.

One of Shiprock's radiating dikesOne of Shiprock's radiating dikesDetermined, we waited it out, and managed to sneak out during calmer periods to snap a few shots. Not exactly ideal conditions, but interesting in its own way, just how the sandblasting we got at Monument Valley also provided a unique perspective.

Unknownst to me before this trip, there are six volcanic dikes radiating from Shiprock like spokes on a bike. The longest and most impressive one runs southwards for 5 miles, rising up 150 feet along its narrow ridge.

West side of ShiprockWest side of ShiprockWhile I huddled in the car, Herb climbed up to the ridge of that dike to get a perspective very different from the normal iconic view of Shiprock.

Afterwards, we drove west along another dike to its end where there was what seemed to be the remains of a kiva, not impossible as this is a very sacred place that could have been used for religious ceremonies.

West side of ShiprockWest side of ShiprockThe wind had died down enough for us to be able to scramble up and along the narrow ridge of this dike, which provided, for me at least, my favorite view of all of Shiprock.

No matter what your spiritual beliefs, this is a very special place.

This was Navajo land so camping without permission was not allowed. Plus the wind was still an issue, so we drove on another hour to the Brentwood Inn in Farmington, New Mexico, from which we would base our exploration of the Bisti Badlands.

Shiprock location map in "high definition"

Javascript is required to view this map.