Shiprock is home to the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation. Also nearby is Shiprock, a Navajo sacred mountain. Every year in the first week of October the Northern Navajo Nation Fair takes place in Shiprock. The Fair is a 7 day event with rodeo and dancing. Diné College (formerly the Navajo Community College, founded in 1968 as the first tribally controlled community college in the United States) has one of its' eight campuses in Shiprock.

For folks visiting Mesa Verde, the Four Corners, the Grand Canyon and many other touristic sites, Shiprock is at a main road juncture: US Highways 64 and 491. However, there is not a single hotel or motel in town.

Shiprock, New Mexico
A lot of the housing in Shiprock looks like this
Shiprock, New Mexico
Diné College, South Campus, Shiprock formation in the background
Shiprock, New Mexico
Diné College, South Campus

Tse Bit'a'i (Shiprock: "the Rock with Wings"), a Navajo sacred mountain, is the remnant of an almost volcanic eruption from some 30 million years ago. It is the basalt core, the volcanic neck, of an extinct volcano. The smaller pinnacles around the main peak are the remains of smaller auxiliary vents. I say "almost volcanic eruption" because the magma never made it to the surface. When this volcanic plug solidified, the formation was half-a-mile or more underground and has been exposed by surface erosion over that last 30 million years. The mountain is composed of volcanic breccia, a form of magma composed of smaller sharp, irregular rock fragments cemented together by hot ash. There are also six dikes (solidified lava walls) radiating outward from the central core of Shiprock. These dikes are where vertical cracks in the ground were filled by the magma as it flowed upward.

In 1939, a California Sierra Club team climbed the mountain but it was declared off-limits to climbers in 1970, in deference to the Navajo Nation. It's actually a reasonably dangerous challenge because the composition of the rock is soft, what experienced climbers call "rotten rock."