A stunning capture of Shiprock by Vernan Kee adds to the splendor of this natural formation

There’s a place in the northern New Mexico desert where an impressive landform rises almost 2,000 feet into the open sky. The remnants of volcanic activity from over 30 million years ago, Shiprock is both a geological wonder and a sacred site.

shiprock sunset northern new mexico
Shiprock stands silhouetted against a stunning New Mexico sunset.Vernan Kee

To the Diné, or the Navajo people, Shiprock is known as Tsé Bit’a’í, or “rock with wings.” In the oral tradition of the Diné, Tsé Bit’a’í is the resting place of a winged monster who was slain by the Diné twin warriors: Naayéé’neizghání (Monster Slayer) and Tóbájíshchíní (Born for Water).

Tsé Bit’a’í is considered sacred to the Diné, and non-native visitors should explore the area with respect by maintaining at least three miles of distance from the formation.