Shiprock, New Mexico, is a small community located on the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County, New Mexico. It gets its name from the nearby Shiprock rock formation and is within a convenient driving distance of many standout natural attractions, preserves, and state parks. While its location and key road junction make it a desirable place to visit, so too does its annual fair.
The Northern Navajo Nation Fair on Highway 491 and Uranium Boulevard is the oldest of all Navajo fairs. It’s also the most traditional and attracts thousands of visitors annually.
The Northern Navajo Nation Fair is held over four days in the fall and is celebrated with a theme. In past years, there has been a particular emphasis on harvesting, healing, harmony, and dining culture.
The fair has been a staple on the New Mexico calendar since the early 1900s, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Those who travel from across state or interstate will be treated to traditional songs and dances, a native market, arts and crafts, a parade, and even a rodeo.
Given its proximity to some of the nation’s most alluring tourist attractions, you also won’t be able to help but take an RV trip around New Mexico and neighboring states. Pay a visit to San Juan National Forest, Four Corners Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, the Shiprock rock formation, and the Grand Canyon.
Experience culture, tradition, and much more by hitting the road bound for Shiprock, New Mexico just in time for the Northern Navajo Nation Fair.
Tickets for the Northern Navajo Nation Fair are available at the entry gates on the day. In the past, prices have been set between $3 and $5 for children, adults, and seniors over age 55. Veterans with ID have been free. Parking passes are additional and may cover admission for the driver.
When you begin planning for an RV trip to Shiprock, New Mexico, it’s helpful to download a traffic app like NMRoads before you set off. Because Shiprock is a popular junction for trucks and tourists, there is always the possibility of congestion and delays.
Shiprock is also on the main route to the Grand Canyon, Four Corners, and Mesa Verde. It’s linked by US-64 and US-491, which used to be US-666. Given the location of Shiprock, many travelers visiting the Northern Navajo Nation Fair may find themselves crossing the border from Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. This is a unique experience, and a visit to the Four Corners Monument is something every avid traveler should add to their itinerary.
Upon arriving in Shiprock, you can make your way to the Northern Navajo Nation Fair in the center of the town on Uranium Boulevard and Highway 491.
There is plenty of parking for RVs in and around Shiprock, New Mexico. If you want to get as close as possible to the fair, then onsite parking is available for a fee. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have any problem finding somewhere quiet to park your motorhome in the general area before making your way on foot or by bicycle to the fairgrounds.
Shiprock is a small town with limited in-town public transportation options. For those who are not parking their motorhome at the fairgrounds, any other parking areas in the township will likely be within a comfortable walking distance. Consider bringing your bicycle along for the ride to speed up your travels and adventures.
Onsite camping is not available for those with an Airstream, Sprinter, or any other motorhome. With so much happening at the fair, the grounds are packed to the brim. Fortunately, you will be able to find somewhere to stay with an RV in and around Shiprock and New Mexico that ticks all the boxes for your needs.
Set your sights within a 30-mile radius of Shiprock to find a myriad of different camping options. In Shiprock, Kirtland, Farmington, and on the way to Little Water, you will be able to choose from primitive RV camping areas and those with service hookups, too.
Many of the best RV campgrounds in this part of New Mexico are near main highways, which means you will be able to access many of the area’s attractions with minimal effort or travel. If you plan to travel south along US-491 from US-160, you may pass Cortez / Mesa Verde KOA on the way to Shiprock.
Upon parking your motorhome at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair, you will find yourself immediately immersed in the action. The expansive lot on which the fair is held is effortless to navigate on foot and is also clearly laid out for visitor convenience. Pop your scooters, bikes, and other wheeled transport back in your RV for use after the fair.
Conditions are reasonably mild in Shiprock during the fall. There are seldom extreme highs or lows, which means you can get creative with your garment choices. Bring a mixture of clothing for warm and cool conditions, and think about what you might need for the myriad of outdoor activities Shiprock and New Mexico has to offer. Comfortable and supportive footwear is a must-have addition to your suitcase for the often hard and stony grounds of the Northern Navajo Nation Fair.
When you enter the Northern Navajo Nation Fair, there will be officials selling tickets at the gates. These same officials may also ask to check your bags. For safety and comfort, leave as many possessions as possible, including your camping and cooking equipment, in your locked motorhome. Leave your hands free for activities and entertainment within the fairgrounds, but don’t forget to bring cash for vendor purchases as ATMs may not be available.
The dry, arid landscape of New Mexico means that hydration and sun safety supplies are crucial. Don’t forget to stock up on sunscreen, lip balm, and plenty of drinking water. Given the distance between main centers and Shiprock, it’s also a good idea to carry plenty of toiletries, a fully-stocked first aid kit, and prescription medication should you require it. You will be able to access your supplies in your RV when you visit the Northern Navajo Nation Fair.
Fall conditions see a desire for pumpkin soup, hearty stews, and chili with a kick. Cook up a storm with your RV kitchen appliances, but make sure you seek permission before you consider the use of campfires and firepits at your chosen RV campground near Shiprock. For convenience’s sake, pick up the bulk of your groceries from a main center before arriving in Shiprock. However, there is a convenience store over the San Juan River within two miles for those more essential supplies.
Don’t let Shiprock’s conservative size fool you, for there is no shortage of hearty food to see you through a vacation in this New Mexico community. From pizza and Chinese to burgers, fried chicken, and American fare, what’s not to like? What’s more, many of the best eateries in Shiprock are across the main road from the fair.
Vendors change from one year to the next at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair, but you can expect not to go hungry. With an emphasis on culture and heritage, you’ll be able to try food you’ve never had before, all the while soaking up an equally as memorable atmosphere. Remember to bring cash when you line up, for some vendors may not accept debit cards and credit cards.
The Northern Navajo Nation Fair is a family-focused event with a heavy emphasis on safety and fun. With that in mind, allow extra time for entry into the fairgrounds due to security screening. It also pays to keep any valuable possessions in your motorhome hidden from view and locked securely.
If you have any security concerns during your visit, approach an official. You can also visit the Shiprock Police Department within a two-mile drive with any other problems.
Temperatures, while mild, can fluctuate in Shiprock and greater New Mexico during fall. Average highs are in the low 70-degree-Fahrenheit range, but lows can be in the high 30s. Rainfall graces the area for a few days of the month, too. If you want to make sure the conditions agree with your outdoor adventures while in the area, download a weather app.
First-aid assistance will be provided to anyone who needs it at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair. However, if you or someone in your group has a medical emergency, dial 911. There is a medical center in Shiprock within three miles of the fairgrounds and a small pharmacy for supplies within one mile.