OverviewPastora Peak is the highest point of the Carrizo Mountains, which are located in extreme northeast Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation, very near the Four Corners. The Carrizos are a broad range with numerous peaks jutting above 9,000 feet from a broad summit ridge and plateau system. As such, Pastora Peak itself does not stand out among its subsidiary peaks. However, it is a worthy destination and an easy day-hike, assuming you can get up the steep dirt roads up onto the highlands. Peakbaggers like it for its status as a range highpoint and its high prominence of 2,687 feet, ranking it 33rd in Arizona.
The broad upper plateau and gentle ridges of the high Carrizos are covered in spotty forest of pine, juniper and mountain oak, with many open meadows. The Navajo maintain corrals, pastures and seasonal camps up here for their stock during the summer. In winter, the Carrizos get considerable snow which will shut all access into the range.
A permit will be required to camp and hike the Carrizos. See the Red Tape section for details about obtaining these permits.
Getting ThereOn US-160 about 10 miles west of the village of Teec Nos Pos, turn south onto gravel Indian Route 5034. To make it especially challenging, roads on the Navajo Nation are rarely signed with their numbers (we saw no signs on our visit). The turn-off is near MP 458, and big Chezhindeza Mesa (photo below) is a good landmark: it will be to your right (southwest) as you drive onto Road 5034.
The road is good gravel and hardpack for about 3 miles as it crosses the desert plain, passing by a few homes. The road then enters into a narrow canyon and hugs the steep slopes, with big drop offs ... needless to say, pay attention here and take it slow.
The road then enters onto a broad bench of low forest, curls around to gain onto a higher ridge, and just grinds ever upward, finally emerging onto the upper highlands. Junctions are generally pretty obvious: stay south/southest on the "main" road. Hang a right at approximately N 36.808, W 109.187 (spot elev. 8811). Hang another right at approximately N 36.746, W 109.174 (spot elev. 9120), then a left immediately thereafter. We camped at the 9120 junction. Pastora's summit is just a mile from here. This was about 13 miles from the highway, but we did not keep exact mileages.
The road is passable by most stock high-clearance 4wd. Parts are steep and rocky, other parts flat and very nice. If wet, the roads are slick and messy.
The road net comes right up to the base of Pastora Peak, and continues onward to other points along the broad ridges. Have the topo map handy to keep track of your position.
Red TapeAll camping and exploring on Navajo Nation lands requires a permit. The cost is usually $5 per day per person, and $5 per person to camp. Permits can be purchased in Cameron at the junction of highways US-89 and AZ-64 during the weekdays, normal business hours (usually 8-5). Permits can also be purchased at the Parks and Recreation building in Window Rock, north of the museum on Indian Route-12.
Navajo Nation Parks
CampingYou can camp at any of the pull-outs along the main road. Try to re-use a camp already in existence. Be sure you aren't camping at one of the seasonal camps used by the Navajo. Pack out all trash.
There is no developed camping in the region.
Gas & SundriesThe closest communities are Teec Nos Pos (about 10 miles east) and Red Mesa (about 10 miles west) along US-160. Both have gas and mini-marts. The Four Corners Monument is about 5 miles east of Teec Nos Pos.
Kayenta is about 60 miles west and has lodging, a grocery store, restaurants and fast food. Other nearby towns are Cortez (Colorado) and Shiprock (New Mexico), both about 40-50 miles away.