Navajo Mountain


By: Bob Greenawalt


Hearing diverse DPS verbal chatter from time to time, I note rumblings from members about certain List Peaks being undesirable because they have little to offer and are too much of a drive to be worthy of holding such status.

A notable one is Navajo Mountain in Utah. Admittedly, an over six hundred mile one-way drive northeast of L.A. for less than six climbing miles is quite a spread.

Let me expound on why I am a staunch supporter of this magic mountain and think it to be one of our best desert peaks.

Its lone prominence is discernible for so many miles before reaching its base and can be identified from Desert View on Grand Canyon's south rim.

True, there is a graded road to the top, used to maintain an array of communications equipment, but that does not materially mar the beauty of this far-flung mighty mass, a sacred symbol of the Navajo Nation. To advance toward its heights, I suggest not trying to drive the mountain road. There are quite obscure trails leading upwards, and the top portion is an easy boulder-hopping adventure. Once past War God Spring and at the corral ruins there is a semblance of a trail and even though it is quite obliterated, cross-countrying is no big hazard as the brush isn't that thick.

Once the near-level summit is attained, it is true the installation might sour some folks, and desert vistas are obliterated due to the high trees (not something new), but don't fret. The best is yet to come! Just go north through the forest and in a few minutes an overlook is reached, allowing a breathtaking view of Rainbow Bridge along the Colorado River's Lake Powell--what a bold panorama to experience. Were the world a teacup, then Rainbow Bridge would be its handle! Then back to the focal point where our only minus sign was not finding the register. Maybe the locals just don't tolerate such writings.

The usual walk back down is via the road.

Now don't go home from here! There are still other bests to come! This is not the time to rally for the Los Angeles 600! What to do is take more time and drive to the east side of the mountain and visit Navajo Mtn Trading Post and the adjoining community, suitably known as Navajo Mountain. It controls the local scene with its post office, store and social center. Better yet, go a bit farther and see the very modem Navajo Mtn Boarding School where several hundred children are in attendance--those students whose home bases are too divorced from schools to sustain daily commuting. Here these Native American youngsters learn to live with others at an early age and home is seen at infrequent intervals--quite different from our usual mode of childhood, and a definite hardship on family ties.

The school is staffed with an apparent almost-equal mix of both N A and Anglo instructors, and one is very welcome to sit in classes as a guest and watch the dexterity of the Navajo pupils in their quest for knowledge. It is most heartwarming to see these youths reading and writing. I hope their history teachers don't say they came from savages! This is a remote land where its inhabitants appear to be truly living in harmony with nature. Their one huge backdrop and inspiration is Navajo Mtn--always present with them. So, please take your time in this enchanted land and you will be well-rewarded for it. Once having visited not only up and down, but around; the midst of one of the most picturesque settings in our country, I think you will be happy to have more Navajo Mtn-like goals on the DPS List!

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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