Shiprock is named after the nearby Shiprock rock formation. It is home to the annual Northern Navajo Fair, held every October. Since 1984, the community has been the host of the Shiprock Marathon and Relay. It is also home to a campus of Diné College (formerly Navajo Community College), a tribally controlled community college with seven other campuses across the Navajo Nation. It is the site of a Chapter House for the Navajo, a Bureau of Indian Affairs agency, an Indian Health Service hospital, and a branch of Farmington Public Library.
Shiprock is a key road junction for truck traffic and tourists visiting the Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Shiprock and the Grand Canyon. The town lies at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and U.S. Highway 491 (formerly U.S. Highway 666). Despite its location at the confluence of two substantial roads and close to many tourist locations the town is notable for having no hotels or motels, the nearest options being in Farmington, New Mexico to the East and Cortez, Colorado to the North.