Zuñi Mountains

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Zuñi Mountains
The elk is the largest animal to graze at El Morro. Unfortunately, elk sightings most frequently occur along area roads at (43e9afe7-050c-4f50-9c1e-a375dd5a0fb2).jpg
Elk with Zuñi Mountains in background
Highest point
PeakMount Sedgwick, 35°10′26″N 108°05′42″W / 35.174°N 108.095°W / 35.174; -108.095
Elevation9,256 ft (2,821 m)
Length60 mi (97 km) NW
Width40 mi (64 km)
Native nameNaasht'ézhí Dził (Navajo)
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico

The Zuñi Mountains (Navajo:Naasht'ézhí Dził or Ńdíshchííʼ Ląʼí[1]) are a mountain range located mainly in Cibola County of northwestern New Mexico, United States,[2] with a small portion extending into McKinley County.[3] The range is located largely in the Cibola National Forest,[3] lying south of Interstate 40 from southeast of Gallup to southwest of Grants. The range is about sixty miles (97 km) long and forty miles (64 km) wide.[4] The highest point is Mount Sedgwick, 9,256 feet (2,821 m); elevations in the range go down to 6,400 feet (1,950 m).[4]

Zuñi Mountains in 1908


The Zuñi Mountains are located at 35°10′4″N 108°19′0″W / 35.16778°N 108.31667°W / 35.16778; -108.31667Coordinates: 35°10′4″N 108°19′0″W / 35.16778°N 108.31667°W / 35.16778; -108.31667, surrounded by the Zuni Indian Reservation, the Ramah Navajo Indian Reservation, and El Morro National Monument to the southwest, El Malpais National Monument to the south, Acoma Pueblo to the east, and the Navajo Nation to the north. The towns of Grants, Gallup, and Ramah are located northeast, northwest, and southwest of the range, respectively. The Zuñi Mountains sit on the Continental Divide and form part of the southeastern edge of the Colorado Plateau.


The history of the range includes ancient and continuing use of the mountains by local native peoples, including the Zuni, Acoma, and Navajo; extensive logging in the early half of the 20th century; and agriculture and mining (including copper and fluorspar) in the mid-20th century.[4]


The Zuñi Mountains form a northwest–southeast trending uplift with a core of Precambrian granite and metamorphic rocks, surrounded by Late Permian and Triassic to Jurassic strata. A total of 20,000 ft (6,000 m) of previously overlying layers of Cretaceous and older sedimentary rocks have been eroded away from the highest part of the range, but appear in outlying areas to the west and to the northeast in San Juan Basin. Precambrian rocks in the range were uplifted during the Ancestral Rocky Mountains orogeny as part of the Zuni-Defiance Uplift in the Pennsylvanian Period.[5] The current physiographic expression of the range is the result of uplift during the Cretaceous–Paleogene Laramide Orogeny approximately 80 to 40 million years ago.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, A Navajo Place Names Guilford, CT: Audio-Forum, 1995
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Zuñi Mountains
  3. ^ a b New Mexico Atlas and Gazetteer, Second Edition, DeLorme Mapping, 2000.
  4. ^ a b c Butterfield, Mike, and Greene, Peter, Mike Butterfield's Guide to the Mountains of New Mexico, New Mexico Magazine Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-937206-88-1
  5. ^ Halka Chronic, Roadside Geology of New Mexico, Mountain Press, 1987, ISBN 0-87842-209-9, p. 34, p. 75.
  6. ^ Cather, Steven M. (2004). "Laramide orogeny in central and northern New Mexico and southern Colorado". In Mack, G.H.; Giles, K.A. (eds.). The geology of New Mexico. A geologic history: New Mexico Geological Society Special Volume 11 (PDF). pp. 203–248. ISBN 9781585460106. Retrieved 28 April 2022.

External links[edit]