Why Shiprock Should Be on Your Southwest Adventure Bucket List

Are you headed to Monument Valley? The Four Corners? Then make sure you add this quick detour to your trip, you won't regret it.

Situated on the border of Arizona and New Mexico is an ancient throat of a volcano. You can see Shiprock for miles, as you approach the quiet New Mexico town. It's jagged edges and large spine, that extends to the South, cut straight out of vast flat landscape that surrounds it. You cannot miss it, you won't mistake it.  

The closer you get to the 4 corners region, the more distinct it becomes. It is a photographer's dream. The vast systems of chimneys making the rock more dramatic against the empty landscape. It is hard to not want to get to the peak, to imagine what was once there. 


I was lucky enough to see both the sunrise (above) and sunset (below) here. If you do not have much time in the region, I highly recommend catching Shiprock for sunset. The lighting is spectacular, as the remaining light over the desert floor hits the volcano perfectly. 

You are able to, walk up and onto the spine that juts out to the South. Because Shiprock is situated on a high desert plain you can see hundreds of miles in any direction. From the spine the desert seems endless. You are able to imagine the days where there were no cars. Where you needed a horse, and traveling took weeks, sometimes months, instead of hours or minutes. 

Shiprock is a sacred site. For that reason, climbing and camping are not allowed. Please be respectful here, as you are on Navajo Nation land. It's beauty and that of the area are why I keep finding myself returning to the American Southwest. 

Published: August 20, 2018

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Joseph Gulizia

United States