Some think the name Shiprock comes from this peak's resemblance to an enormous clipper ship. It is an old volcanic core, an igneous intrusion in a sedimentary world. It is surrounded by black dikes of igneous minette.
Shiprock is 7,177' high, and can be seen for many miles in the
predominantly flat desert landscape. We had spent the previous
night in Farmington, NM, about 32 miles east, and we could see
Shiprock as soon as we left there.
It is governed by the Navajo Nation, and plays a significant role in
their religious traditions. It is located in the center of the ancient
We were at Shiprock many years ago, and were able to walk up to the base of the rock and climb on the dikes. This time, we just viewed it from the highway. The locals warned us that they were having a bad year for snakes, and we weren't feeling very brave wearing sandals and shorts.
I try to imagine traveling through here when there were no highways, no towns, or no electric poles in a straight line, and seeing this huge volcanic core in the distance. I can understand why people think it is a magical and spiritual place.