Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
39Trip End Oct 26, 2010
We are gifted with another day of cloudless blue skies and mild temperatures. After looking at the map we decided to alter our course a little, this time to El Morro National Monument, thinking it would be a quick detour before leaving New Mexico. The road, route 53, offered other opportunities for diversion, through El Malpais National Monument and Bandera Volcano and ice caves but we continued on course to El Morro and oh my what a lovely surprise, we were not prepared.
There was a small campground so we chose to stop there first and select a campsite not knowing how busy it might be, well, no worries about vacant spots. The only other vehicle in the campground was a Eurovan Camper; nobody home but obviously camped for the night. We found a beautiful spot; they were all beautiful, but this one overlooked El Morro across a vast sea of golden grass, the color of wheat, studded with pinon pines and low growing junipers for an added splash of color.
Proceeding to the visitor center we watched an introductory film about the area of which we really knew nothing. El Morro (headland) is a 200-foot high sandstone outcropping with a permanent pool of water at its base. The water has made this a stopping place for travelers for thousands of years.
The most impressive landmark next to El Morro itself is Inscription Rock, a little piece of history etched into the walls El Morro. Beginning in 1605, the date of the first non-Native American carving, travelers began leaving their names inscribed in the sandstone along with the date of their visit. This practice continued through the 1800's until it was outlawed in 1906.
We walked the base looking for the petroglyphs of the Anasazi and for the inscriptions left by the Spaniards in the 1600’s, pioneers traveling through the area in the 1800’s and men who were working with the Union Pacific Railroad, UPR after their names. A couple of people even wrote poems in the sandstone. This took up more time than we would have expected and as the light was dimming we returned to camp. We met the other Eurovan owners in the parking lot and chatted a bit before retreating to camp; we will climb El Morro tomorrow morning.