The Navajo city of Shiprock, which sits astride the San Juan River, is an arid, dusty community located in the northwest corner of New Mexico. Its namesake is a majestic volcanic monolith (neck) located just to the west. Shiprock was the starting point for our short, scenic trip to Cove Chapter, located just over the state border in Arizona. Cove is an underdeveloped picturesque Navajo community
Heading south out of Shiprock, we turned right on the first paved road (N13). For this “on the road adventure,” I was playing Bing Crosby (although I can’t sing) and my friend was playing Bob Hope. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a Dorothy Lamour character with us. After progressing a few miles, the road cuts through a major volcanic dike that radiates south from the Shiprock formation. The dike is a gigantic natural black fence.
Just past the dike, is an impressive sandstone monolith locally know as Mitten Rock. After giving the outcrop a quick look, we couldn’t find any resemblance to a mitten? Just past Mitten Rock is a beautiful vista back toward Shiprock.
After making a right turn, and then a quick left, we are on the road to Cove Chapter and the end of the pavement. Cove gets its name from the red rock cliffs that partially surround the area. On a mesa to the west, we could see an impressive, free-standing arch. After assisting with the installation of a 4-seat swing set, we were given a short tour of the mesa to the west.
We drove up near the arch and were given a short introduction to the history and archaeological sites that dot the landscape. So far there are few traveler comforts in the Cove area, but Chapter officials hope to change that. The area does provide for a scenic day trip, particularly if you are interest in geology. Be sure you have plenty of gas, bring food, and get permission for Chapter officials before venturing too far off the beaten path.