Saturday, February 12, 2011

Round Rock, Rock Point and Lukachukai-Flat Rock Scenic Drive

Round Rock and Little Round Rock are eye catching formations in the Chinle Valley region of the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona. This pair of buttes sits between the Lukachukai Mountains to the east and the ground rising toward Black Mesa in the west.

One of the many scenic drives in Navajo country is the combination of Highway 191 south from Mexican Water, AZ to the Round Rock Chapter, then continuing south on Navajo Route 12 to Tsailie. The Highway 191 segment and then continuing on to Many Farms is called the Flat Rock Mesa Scenic By-way.

Both routes are scenic and lead toward the spectacular Canyon de Chelly. I think the base of Round Rock is the soft Chinle Layer supporting steep sandstone cliffs, probably the Wingate layer. From the right angles, it appears that Round Rock has an arch on the western side.

North of Round Rock, the Rock Point Chapter area features sandstone outcrops, mesas, and monument formations similar to Monument Valley. One of the most obvious is Whale Rock resembling a surfacing whale. Some of the small pinnacles may have cultural significance as part of the traditional Navajo religion.

South of Round Rock, the next community is Lukachukai, sitting along the base of the Lukachukai Mountains. At Lukachukai, Navajo Route 13 is another scenic drive crossing the mountains at Buffalo Pass and descending on the east side into Cove and on to Shiprock, New Mexico.

At the junction of Navajo 12 and Navajo 64 there are views of the square topped Roof Butte. Route 64 leads to three north rim overlooks of Canyon de Chelly and is part of the Among the People Scenic Road that continues south to Fort Defiance and Window Rock, AZ.

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