We’ve seen Ship Rock from a distance. Once when we were on the road to Four Corners and more recently from the top of Mesa Verde. Both times we were quite a distance away (25 miles or more) and we didn’t get more than a hazy view of it.
Yesterday we took a drive down to Ship Rock in order to get a better look at it. Ship Rock is southwest of the town of Shiprock and is about 1600 feet high (the peak is at an altitude of 7200 feet and the altitude of the surrounding land is around 5600 feet).
Ship Rock is the remains of a 27 million year-old volcano and is what’s left of the lava that was in its throat. The rest of the volcano has long since eroded away. Interestingly, although it is a prominent landmark we never once saw a sign for it. I checked with Google Maps and took the road that was closest to it. The road was on the southern side of Ship Rock and as far as I can tell there is no way to get to the base of it that isn’t on private or Navajo reservation land. Ship Rock is sacred to the Navajo and is present in a number of their myths and legends. Access to Ship Rock was banned in 1970 following a rock climber’s death and there is a council of the local Navajo that works to keep it un-molested.
So we got some good photographs and had a nice ride but this is the closest we could get to it.