Zuni Mountains

The Zuni Mountains (Navajo:Naasht'ézhí Dził or Ńdíshchííʼ Ląʼí[1]) are a mountain range located mainly in Cibola County of northwestern New Mexico, with a small portion extending into McKinley County.[2] The range is located largely in the Cibola National Forest,[2] 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.[3] 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).[3]

The Zuni Mountains are located at 35°10′4″N 108°19′0″W, 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.

Geologically, the Zuni Mountains form a northwest-southeast trending uplift with a core of Precambrian granite and metamorphic rocks, surrounded by red sandstone. 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. The range was part of the ancestral Rocky Mountains in the Pennsylvanian epoch.[4] There are no dramatic peaks, but there are plateaus, cliffs, and canyons.[3] The Zuni Mountains sit on the Continental Divide and form part of the southern 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.[3]


  1. Wilson, A Navajo Place Names Guilford, CT: Audio-Forum, 1995
  2. New Mexico Atlas and Gazetteer, Second Edition, DeLorme Mapping, 2000.
  3. 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
  4. Halka Chronic, Roadside Geology of New Mexico, Mountain Press, 1987, ISBN 0-87842-209-9, p. 34, p. 75.

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