Navajo Mountain DPS & Goosenecks State Park

  • Updated: November 28, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

   Navajo Mountain (10,346')
When: November 28th, 2014
Where: Utah
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

Navajo Mountain is a peak on the Sierra Club Desert Peak Section list of 99 peaks stretching from Mexico to Utah.  It has the distinction of being very far away and the only peak on the list you can drive up.

Sound awesome?  Well that's not all!  It's located on Navajo land and depending who you ask climbing it is either forbidden or just discouraged.  See the Summitpost page for Navajo for details.

Despite this DPS hasn't seen fit to de-list the peak (despite doing so for Kino, Ajo, and Maturango all of which I've also done and have far less access issues) so I figured it was worth a shot and started calling around.

After getting transferred umpteen times the best answer I was given was "Not everyone likes you up there and you can't leave the road but if you stick to that you should be fine"  I was also able to contact someone through Peakbagger who had just been up there and said he'd had no issues.

So day 2 of the 2014 Turktacular found us driving across Navajo land towards a very big mountain...

Navajo from Lake Powell
The speed limits are low on Navajo land and everyone except us seemed to be ignoring them but it never hurts to be careful when you're driving around in a neon green jeep.

We found the turnoff, helpfully labeled by an old tire hanging in a tree with "Mountain" and an arrow drawn in white paint, and started up the road.

We were following a beat up old pickup on an already rather rough road when it stopped and started backing up.  We could see other vehicles past him.

We backed up until we could find a place to pull over and sat there while maybe 30 cars drove by.  A few people made some unfriendly comments, one person offered to help us pan for gold for some reason, and another woman talked to us about whether we were supposed to be there.

She claimed we needed permission of the Chapterhouse in Paige to be there.  When I explained I'd been given permission as long as we didn't leave the road she didn't look overly thrilled but drove on without asking us to leave.

That awkward incident over we continued up the road.

For the first few miles the road is rough but nothing too challenging.  The convoy had had several non high clearance cars though they obviously came from somewhere low on the mountain.

Then you start going up.  Very quickly.

Oh and there's this friendly little sign.

No Welcom White Man
Towards the top the road got narrow and even steeper.  Several times we talked about just stopping and walking the last part of the road but we were nervous about leaving the vehicle considering our earlier encounter and kind of wanted to get up and down this before it got dark.

We made it all the way to the summit though one of my passengers had her eyes shut for a good portion of it.

The summit was just as non inspiring as I'd heard.  You can't see anything due to the trees and there are towers.  No sign of a register though we didn't look very long.

Except for the access issues and the dissapointing summit it's quite beutiful near the top.  Awesome views and a large number of campsites are everywhere.

But we had to get down.

Going down was the most I've spent in 4WD low since owning the jeep.  A few of the switchbacks got a little interesting and I scraped a few times.

We were all quite happy when we made it down to the pavement.

Having done Navajo I now feel qualified to say it should be delisted from DPS.  While I can see why it was originally included, it can be seen for a huge distance in every direction, the fact it is so far away, a drive up, and that the locals don't like people up there makes it hard to recommend.  Hopefully that happens before my second pass through the list...

We headed east thinking to camp in Valley of the Gods that night but Jen found a place called Goosenecks State Park that seemed to allow campfires and had pictures of people camped right beside large cliffs.

There's a small developed area that includes trash cans and pit toilets that had a few other people.  Following directions we'd found we drove down a suprisingly bumpy dirt road until we found a suitably remote spot and set up camp.

The following morning we could see a little better.

It was a good thing they had bathrooms because there wasn't so much as a bush big enough to squat behind.

One of the goosenecks
Tomorrow Valley of the Gods & Monument Valley!

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